By Prof J S Rathod
Dictionary describes `Universe’ as the “whole of space and everything in it, including earth, the planets and the stars.” We are born here. We die here. We chase our material and spiritual desires here. Beautiful and enchanting it all appears in the beginning and we are enthralled and possessed by it.
However, that doesn’t last long. Disease, death, vain self-interest driven human relationships, environment of violence and crime, rat race for money and power, environmental crisis, food and water famines, communication technology converting us into insensitive robots who are mere email-ids and mobile numbers deprived of the warmth of physical contacts and loving interaction with our near and dear ones – all these ultimately reveal that every pursuit in this world unfailingly ends up in mental and physical suffering.
The core of the Buddha’s enlightenment was his confrontation with the suffering intrinsic to existence. Along with the birth of attached consciousness is the birth of suffering. All the four noble truths revealed by the Buddha talk about suffering and the path to the cessation of suffering.
We are told that universe is the creation of God. Why then such an illusory creation of name-and-form? Who we are – illusion or reality? Are we mere quantum interactions on the edges of the universe? What for we are here? And this world of ours, is it really that real as it appears to be? In the infinite expanse of Infinity our earth is not bigger than a dot.
In the words of Neil Alden Armstrong, commander of Apollo 11 who set foot on the moon on July 20, 1969: “It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the earth. I put my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet earth. I didn’t feel like a giant. I felt very very small.”
This course explores all this and presents fresh spiritual and modern science overviews on the nature of universe – the objective physical reality.
The unfolding mystery of universe makes this exploration all the more necessary.
Gerald I. Schroeder, the author of The Science of God: The Convergence of Scientific and Biblical Wisdom (Free Press 1997) also feels the same way:
“As a scientist trained at MIT, I was convinced I had the information to exclude Him or is it Her (i.e. a creator) from the grand scheme of life. But with each step forward in the unfolding mystery of cosmos, a subtle but prevailing ingenuity, a contingency kept shining through – a contingency that joins all aspects of existence into a coherent unity. While this coherence does not prove the existence of a Designer, it does call out for interpretation.”
Module 1: Spiritual Perception of Universe
This module presents the spiritual understanding of the universe as revealed by Avatar Meher Baba and by Hindu, Buddhist, Christian and Sufi ancient scriptures, avatars, prophets, saints and sages.
Unit 1.1: Questions needing answers
We begin by singing our age old nursery rhyme by Jane Taylor:
Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star
Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky.
For you never shut an eye
Till the sun is in the sky.
As your bright and tiny spark
Lights the traveler in the dark,
Though I know not what you are,
Twinkle, twinkle, little star.
`Though I know not what you are. Twinkle, twinkle, little star’ – what is true with our `little` twinkling star is true with our universe also. We keep on wondering who we are, where we are and how real this abode of ours is. It appears so real – vast and solid – but disappears in our dream and deep sleep states. Obviously, it is not that much real as we think about it. We also keep on wondering why we are here – what for?
Sage Adi Shankaracharya sings in his `Bhaj Govindam’ stotra:
kaate kaantaa kaste putrah
kasya tvam kah kuta aayaatah
tattvam chintaya tadiha bhraatah
Meaning: “Who is your wife? Who is your son? Strange is this samsara. Of whom are you? Where have you come from? Where you are going? Brother, ponder over these truths.” The sage calls for a review and an overview of ourselves, our relationships and our perception of the universe and the world we live in.
Unit 1.2: Brahman, Yoga Maya and the Universe
Brahman Jnana or Spiritual Knowledge points out that the physical universe or the gross world is just a part of the spiritual universe which is constituted by the gross, subtle and mental spheres. And, all these worlds are in the Supreme Self or Paramatma. In the words of Avatar Meher Baba:
“All souls (atmas) were, are and will be in the Over-Soul (Paramatma). Souls (atmas) are all One. All souls are infinite and eternal. They are formless. All souls are One; there is no difference in souls or in their being and existence as souls. (God Speaks, p.1).” There is only a difference in the consciousness of souls. Meher Baba says: “Most souls have experience of the gross sphere (world); some souls have experience of the subtle sphere (world); a few souls have the experience of the mental sphere (world); and a very few souls have experience of the Over-Soul. (God Speaks, p.1).”
Avatars, prophets, saints and sages remind us again and again that this world of ours and that way the entire universe is only an illusion and delusion:
Throughout every moment of our lives, we encounter countless blessings and beauties created for us by Allah: the air we breathe, the varied and impressively lovely sights in nature, the splendid beauty in animals, plants and flowers are all examples of this incontestable fact. They, along with many other wonders of the natural world, all have a powerful impact upon the human soul. Yet there is one important fact about the beauties of this world which needs to be understood by man. As our Lord has revealed in His Book, “the life of this world is just the enjoyment of delusion.” – (Surah Al ‘Imran, 185).
So don’t waste your time trying to fill your cup with water
When you know that there is nothing in this well but wind.
O Hafiz, in this desert, you have fallen victim to your own illusions.
When was a pilgrim’s thirst ever quenched by a mirage?
(Drunk on the Wine of the Beloved: 100 Poems of Hafiz. Translations by Thomas Raine Crowe)
Hindu spiritual scriptures reveal that Sat –Chit- Ananda Brahman or Supreme Self or God is the ultimate reality. In its nirgun niraakaar state it is without any attributes and form while in its sagun saakaar state it is characterized by Asti-Bhati-Priya – Truth-Love-Beauty. This sagun saakaar asti-bhati-priya takes divine form or vigrah and descends in the world as Avatar emanating Prakash (Light) and Prem (Love). Christian scriptures reveal the same truth. Jesus said to Jews:
“You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world.” Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I AM HE, you will die in your sins.” (John 8:20-24)
Adi Shankaracharya stated: “Brahman Satyam, Jagat mithya; Jeevo Brahmaiva Naa Parah”.
It means: Brahman is Truth, the perceived World is an illusion; the living are no different from Brahman. World or universe is only an imaginary change in name and form of Brahman – `Vivarta’. It is only a superficial appearance while there is no change in reality. Like taking rope as a snake, one Brahman appears in many pratibimbaas (reflections) as pratibhasika satya or imagined truth. Brahman, the Supreme Self, imagined all this as His leela or joyous game and made use of His Yoga-Maya, for His cosmic leela. Avatar Meher Baba calls this cosmic leela as the Whim of God – the urge to know Himself.
Maya or Yoga-Maya usually quoted as “illusion” centered on the fact that we do not experience the environment itself but rather a projection of it created by us. Maya is the principal deity that manifests, perpetuates and governs the illusion and dream of duality in the phenomenal universe. We are like a brief, disturbed `drop’ of water in an unbound ocean.
The goal of enlightenment is to understand this, experience this: to see intuitively that the distinction between the self and the universe is a false dichotomy. The most important way that Maya fools us is with regard to ourselves. We think we are our bodies, our thoughts, our desires, and so forth. But those things are virtual creations of Maya. They seem to be “me” but this is illusion. Actually our awareness, the real “me”, is something else: Brahman.
Brahman is the real truth of our existence: in Brahman we live, move and have our being. “All this is indeed Brahman” the Upanishads – the scriptures that form Vedanta philosophy – declare. The changing world that we see around us can be compared to moving images on a movie screen. Without the unchanging screen in the background, there can be no movie. Similarly, it is the unchanging Brahman – the substratum of existence – in the background of this changing world that gives the world its reality.
Brahman is Supreme Self – pure Sat-Chit-Ananda I AM -consciousness. Sat stands for eternal pure existence, Chit for all inclusive infinite pure consciousness, and Ananda for pure bliss.
Meher Baba explains the relationship between Maya and Brahman in these words:
“How does the false world of finite things come into existence? Why does it exist? It is created by Maya, or the principle of Ignorance. Maya is not illusion; it is the creator of illusion. Maya is not false; it is that which gives false impressions. Maya is not unreal; it is that which makes the real appear unreal and unreal appear real. Maya is not duality; it is that which causes duality.”
“Everything that is finite and limited belongs to the world of illusion, though the principle that causes the illusion of finite things must, in a sense, be regarded as not being in illusion.”
“Maya cannot be considered as being finite. A thing becomes finite by being limited by space and time. Maya does not exist in space and cannot be limited by it. Maya cannot be limited in space because space is itself the creation of Maya. Space, with all that it contains, is an illusion and is dependent upon Maya. Maya, however, is in no way dependent upon space. Hence it cannot be finite through any limitations of space. Nor can Maya be finite because of any limitations of time. Though Maya comes to an end in the state of Super Consciousness, it need not be considered finite for that reason. Maya cannot have a beginning or end in time because time itself is a creation of Maya. Any view that makes Maya a happening that takes place at some time and disappears after some time puts Maya in time and not time in Maya. Time is in Maya; Maya is not in time. Time, as well as all happenings in time, is the creation of Maya. Maya is in no way limited by time. Time comes into existence because of Maya and disappears when Maya disappears. God is timeless Reality, thus the realization of God, and the disappearance of Maya, is a timeless act.”
– (Discourses p.384-85)
“Separateness exists only in imagination.”
“When the rays of the sun are made to pass through a prism, they get dispersed and become separate because of refraction. If each of these rays had consciousness, it would consider itself as being separate from the other rays, forgetting entirely that at the source and on the other side of the prism it had no separate existence. In the same way the one Being descends into the domain of Maya and assumes a multiplicity that does not in fact exist. The separateness of individuals does not exist in reality but only in imagination. The one universal Soul imagines separateness in itself and out of this division there arises the thought of “I” and “mine” as opposed to “you” and “yours”. Although the soul is in reality undivided and absolute unity, it appears as being manifold and divided owing to the working of its own imagination. Imagination is not reality.”
– (Discourses p.18)
Unit 1.3: Purpose behind Creation
But why did God create an illusory world? What could be the purpose behind this illusion of a universe? What role Maya had played?
In the infinite expanse of God or Supreme Self-Consciousness or Everything, at a point of Unconsciousness or Nothing, the Word of words – Om or AUM – got activated. The infinite, unconscious and tranquil state of God reverberated with an impulse, the urge to know itself. God was asleep and this `Who am I’, ‘Who am I’ impulse stirred the Unconsciousness. Instantaneously this dream of a universe got created in the form gross, subtle and mental worlds. Supreme Self, delimiting itself in countless name-and-form identities, indulged in this cosmic leela or game of identification and negation: `I am this – ‘no I am not this’ – `I am that’. Ultimately negating the whole world of name-and-form it reverberated with a mighty urge to transcend the limitations of gross, subtle and mental worlds and be one with the Supreme Reality or Supreme Self. Dying as the limited-self (i.e. ‘I am this- I am that’), it became fully awake regaining and resurrecting its true identity as God or Supreme Self or Pure ‘I Am – I Am’ awareness, the Life Eternal.
Meher Baba says:
“Let us now think of one unconscious soul. In the beginning the soul had no impressions (sansakaras) and no consciousness.” … “This infinite, impression less, unconscious tranquil state of the soul reverberated with an impulse which we call the FIRST URGE (the first urge to know itself).
The first urge was latent in Paramatma.” – (God Speaks, p.8)
“The sole purpose of creation is for the soul to enjoy the infinite state of the Oversoul consciously. Although the soul eternally exists in and with the Oversoul in an inviolable unity, it cannot be conscious of this unity independently of creation, which is within the limitations of time. It must therefore evolve consciousness before it can realize its true status and nature as being identical with the infinite Oversoul, which is one without a second.”
– (Discourses, p.223)
Unit: 1.4: Brahmana (God), Atma or `We’ (Soul) and Universe are One
Illusion is illusion, Reality is Reality. Supreme Self, which alone exists, remains unchanged.
Meher Baba says:
“There is nothing to know. Everything is for forgetting. Whatever can be understood is illusion. The highest understanding and the lowest are both illusion. What cannot be understood is Reality. We are what we are. What we were, we are, and what we are, we shall be. If you don’t understand this, it matters little. All that has to be understood is illusion, but if you understand what cannot be understood, then you will know that we were, we are and we shall be. You have to gain that consciousness.
In short, there has been no change in us, nor will there be any. The only difference lies in knowing that we are unaware of what we are – Infinite God and One. We began to understand ourselves differently as separate entities. This thinking of separateness is nothing but illusion. The wonder is that we were One with Infinite God, and today take ourselves as separate from Him. We began to think in terms of individuality – I am sick, I am happy, and so forth. Such understanding will have to be forsaken.” – (Lord Meher, vol.12, p.4164-4165)
“The soul as Soul is infinite – aloof from mind or body – yet owing to ignorance, the soul comes under the sway of the mind and becomes a “thinker,” sometimes identifying itself with the body and sometimes with the mind. From the limited point of view of a person who has not gone beyond the domain of Maya, there are numberless individuals. It seems that there are as many individuals as there are minds and bodies. In fact, there is only one universal Soul, but the individual thinks that he is different from other individuals. The one and the same Soul is ultimately behind the minds of seemingly different individuals, and through them it has the multifarious experiences of duality. The One in the many comes to experience itself as one of the many. This is due to imagination or false thinking.” – (Discourses p. 17)
About the objective universe, Meher Baba says:
“The one Reality includes in itself all existence. It is Everything, but it has Nothing as its shadow.” And: “The manifold evolving universe arises from the mixing of the one Reality and Nothing. It springs out of Nothing when this Nothing is taken against the background of the one Reality. But this should not be taken to mean that the universe is partly the outcome of the one Reality, or that it has an element of Reality. It is an outcome of Nothing and is nothing. It only seems to have existence. Its apparent existence is due to the one Reality, which is as it were, behind the Nothing. When Nothing is added to the one Reality, the result is the manifold and evolving universe.” – (Discourses p.24-25)
Mundaka Upanishad says:
brahmaivedham amritam purastaat brahma
paschaat brahma dakshinahtascha uttarena
adhascha urdhvam cha prasritham
brahmaiva idam vishvam idam varishtham
Brahman is of the nature of immortality and it is present here everywhere. Brahman is in the front, Brahman is in the back, Brahman is in left, Brahman is in right, Brahman is on top and Brahman is on bottom – everything in the world is filled with Brahman which is great and attainable or desirable object.
Taittiriya Upanishad says:
Yena sarvaani bhootaani jaayanthe
Yena jaathaani jeevanthi
Tad vijijnaasasva tad brahma ithi
That from which all objects have come, that in which all objects exist and that into which all objects merge during destruction – that is to be known, know that to be Brahman.
Chandogya Upanishad says:
Sarvam Khalu Idam Brahman – everything is verily Brahman.
Mahavakyas or the Great Sayings of Upanishads reveal:
Prajnanam Brahman – Awareness or Consciousness is Brahman (Aitareya Upanishad 3.3)
Ayam Atma Brahman- The Self (Atman) is Brahman (Mandukya Upanishad 1.2)
Tat tvam Asi – Thou art That (Chandogya Upanishad 6.8.7)
Aham Brahmasmi – I AM Brahman (Brihadaranyak Upanishad 1.4.10).
Prajnanam Brahman means Prajnanam is Brahman. Prajnanam is awareness, consciousness which is pervading the subtlest texture of the cosmos and is present and active everywhere, at all the places, and all the time.
Atma or I AM is the Self, the solitary ever wakeful self-awareness witness of waking (Vaishvanara), dreaming (Taijas) and dreamless sleep (Prajna) states. It is Turiya – the one that transcends all. Mandukya Upanishad, explaining the sacred syllable AUM, describes this comprehensively:
The Fourth Aspect is Turiya: The fourth aspect of Atman or Self is Turiya, literally the fourth. In this fourth state, consciousness is neither turned outward nor inward. Nor is it both outward and inward; it is beyond both cognition and the absence of cognition. This fourth state of Turiya cannot be experienced through the senses or known by comparison, deductive reasoning or inference; it is indescribable, incomprehensible, and unthinkable with the mind. This is Pure Consciousness itself. This is the real Self. It is within the cessation of all phenomena. It is serene, tranquil, filled with bliss, and is one without second. This is the real or true Self that is to be realized.
Krishna says: “I AM the Goal, the Supporter, the Lord, the Witness, the Abode, the Shelter, the Friend, the Origin, the Dissolution, the Foundation, the Treasure-house and the Seed Imperishable.” – (Bhagawad Geeta IX/18)
And: “I AM the Self, O Gudakesh, seated in the hearts of all beings; I AM the Beginning, the Middle and also the End of all beings.”
– (Bhagawad Geeta X/20)
Sufi faqirs dance and shout in ecstasy ‘Anal-Haq, Anal-Haq’ (I AM God/I AM the Truth). Mansur Al-Hallaj was a famous Sufi of the 10th Century who was executed (hung by the neck) in 922 AD for having stated: “Anal Haq” which means “I AM the Truth”. The orthodox Ulema considered this as blasphemy, thinking that he was claiming to be God himself, whereas he was only proclaiming in a state of sublime spiritual ecstasy, a total annihilation of ‘self’ (his ego) and his oneness with I AM the Truth.
“I AM that I AM – ehyeh-aser-ehyeh – was God’s response when Moses asked for His name (Hebrew Bible).” “Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh (often contracted in English “I AM”) is one of the Seven Names of God accorded special care by medieval Jewish tradition. “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM. (John 8:58)”
. Brahman is the Ultimate, Supreme Reality. Brahman is eternal. Brahman cannot be described completely. Atman is the inmost Self or Spirit but different from `empirical ego’. Atman is the fundamental, ultimate, eternal, immutable pure consciousness. Brahman is the ultimate reality behind all world-objects and Atman is pure spirit in all beings. Truly speaking Brahman and Atman are one – just two different labels for one and the same reality behind everything.
Universe, this spectacle of name and forms, is deceptive. Buddha says:
Know all things to be like this:
A mirage, a cloud castle ….
Nothing is as it appears.
Pure I AM-I AM Awareness is Buddha’s `Suchness’.
Seeds that manifest as body and mind,
As realms of being, stages, and worlds,
Are all stored in our consciousness.
That is why it is called “store.” (Verse 3)
Meditating on the nature of interdependence,
Transform delusion into enlightenment,
Samsara and Suchness are not two,
They are one and the same(Verse 41)
Nothing is born, nothing dies
Nothing to hold on to, nothing to release
Samsara is nirvana
There is nothing attain. (Verse 49)
Adi Shankaracharya says in his Nirvana Shatkam:
Aham Nirvikalpa Nirakara Roopah
Vibhur Vyapya Sarvatra Sarvendriyanam
Sada Mey Samatvam Na Muktir Na Bandhah
Chidananda Rupa Shivoham Shivoham
I AM free from changes, and lack all the qualities and form. I envelope all forms from all sides and am beyond the sense-organs. I AM always in the state of equality — there is no liberation (Mukti) or captivity (Bandha). I AM the eternal happiness or bliss state, I AM Shiv, I AM Shiv.
Brihadaranyaka Upanishad and Avadhuta Gita prefer negation ‘Neti-Neti’ or ‘Not this-Not this’ i.e. Brahman or I AM is neither ‘this’ nor ‘that’ as the only way to come out of the trap of Maya. Multifarious perception of Universe or Creation leads us to Supreme Reality by getting itself negated. The doctrine of ‘Neti-Neti’ of Brihadaranyaka Upanishad suggests the indescribability of Brahman, the Absolute. It is possible to describe Brahman what it is not but not as to what it is.
Avadhuta Gita says:
Tattvamasyaadi vaakyena svaatma hi pratipaaditah
Neti Neti srutir bruyaat anrutam Pancha Boutikam 25
By the great Tattvaas such as ‘That Thou Art’ your own Self is affirmed. Of all that which is untrue and composed of the five elements, the Sruti says Neti-Neti or Not this- Not that.
Aatmanyevaatmana sarvam tvaya purnam nirantaram
dhyata dhyaanam na te chittam nirlajjam dhyaayate katham 26
As the Self (I AM) is filled only by the Self (I AM) alone, so is all continuously filled by you. There is no Meditator or Meditation. Why does your mind meditate shamelessly?
Thus, Brahman or Supreme Self or I AM Super Consciousness alone is. Separateness is illusory. Every part or state of universe is an all inclusive Whole or Brahman or Supreme Self or I AM Super Consciousness.
Upanishads express this in the form of a Mantra:
Om Puurnnam-Adah Puurnam-Idam Puurnnat-Purnnam-Udachyate
Puurnnashya Puurnnam-Aadaaya Puurnnam-Eva-Avashissyate
Om That is Full, This also is Full,
From Fullness Comes that Fullness,
Taking Fullness from Fullness,
Fullness Indeed Remains.
Universe is illusion, if perceived as a domain of discrete name-form formations. Universe is Supreme Being or Supreme Reality itself, if seen as the manifestation of the One as many. Zen Masters have put this most beautifully:
Learning to believe that the universe is alive, conscious, and aware and, more particularly, aware of each of us, can change your experience of life. It can change your relationship with the Universe in a way that will find you living in a brand-new-world – one that will delight you as long as you are on the planet.
Not only is the Universe aware of us, but it also communicates with us. We, in turn, are constantly in communication with the Universe through our words, thoughts, and actions. The Universe responds with events.
Events are the language of the Universe.
The Universe always strikes at your weakest
point because that’s what most needs
You, as part of the Universe, are cared for as if
you were a precious jewel, which you are.
A personal philosophy that’s based on what’s
true in the Universe will sustain you through
every occurrence that life brings to you.
(From: Zen and the Art of Happiness by Chris Prentiss, Wisdom Tree 2008)
Module 2: Spiritual Convergence of Modern Science
Unit 2.1: Superior Spirit behind Harmony of Natural Law
“My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble minds. That deeply emotional conviction of the presence of a superior reasoning power, which is revealed in the incomprehensible universe, forms my idea of God.”
“The scientist is possessed by the sense of universal causation. His religious feeling takes the form of a rapturous amazement at the harmony of natural law, which reveals an intelligence of such superiority that, compared with it, all the systematic thinking and acting of human beings is an utterly insignificant reflection.”
– Quotes from: The Quotable Einstein, Princeton Univ. Press.
The following is from Einstein and Religion by Max Jammer, Princeton University Press:
“I’m not an atheist, and I don’t think I can call myself a pantheist. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn’t know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God. We see the universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain laws but only dimly understand these laws. Our limited minds grasp the mysterious force that moves the constellations.”
Albert Einstein also said:
“A human being is a part of the whole, called by us the universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest – a kind of delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
– quoted by H. Eves in ‘Mathematical Circles Adieu’, Boston 1977.
“Science without religion is lame: Religion without science is blind.”
In the early 20th century, new patterns were added to the fabric of the universe: Quantum Mechanics, the Uncertainty Principle and Relativity, to name a few. The old mechanistic, deterministic view of the universe was shattered forever. A new model of universe took over and replaced it.
Much has changed in the science of physics with publications of David Bohm, Dennis Gabor, Karl Pribram, John S. Bell, Neil Bohr, Rupert Sheldrake, James Watson, Jack Sarfatti, Ken Wilber, David Peat, Illya Prigogine, Lawrence N. Rothenberg, Dominique Loye, Fritjof Capra, John Eccles etc. adding to our information and inspiration. Newtonian physics encouraged science to focus on the study of the physical world. Now, as theories have developed on relativity, the electromagnetic theory, the particle theory, and quantum physics, we can better see the connection between scientific objective descriptions of our world and the world of subjective human experience.
The present scientific view of reality currently supports the idea that we are composed of energy fields and presents a holographic view of our universe. In this universe all things are interconnected.
Unit 2.2: Building blocks of Matter are like Musical Notes
In the domain of modern physics some very exciting theories have been proposed to explain the `reality’ of our universe. One such theory is the String Theory. Think of a guitar string that has been tuned by stretching the string under tension across the guitar. Depending on how the string is plucked and how much tension is in the string, different musical notes will be created by the string. These musical notes could be said to be excitation modes of that guitar string under tension.
In a similar manner, in string theory, the elementary particles we observe in particle accelerators could be thought of as the “musical notes” or excitation modes of elementary strings.
In string theory, as in guitar playing, the string must be stretched under tension in order to become excited. However, the strings in string theory are floating in space-time; they aren’t tied down to a guitar. Nonetheless, they have tension.
2.3: Universe is like a splendid Hologram
David Bohm, eminent physicist and the author of Wholeness and the Implicate Order, says:
“The so-called empty space in the universe contains an immense background of energy. Matter, as we know it, is just a small quantized wave-like excitation on top of the background, rather like a tiny ripple on a vast sea.”
In mid-1960’s a powerful technology was developed HOLOGRAPHY, in which the interference of patterns of twin laser beams create `realistic’ 3-Dimensional images. University of London quantum physicist David Bohm encountered Holography for the first time. He was electrified: here at last was a new process to model our understanding of the universe – THE UNIVERSE IS LIKE A HOLOGRAM.
In his book The Holographic Universe, Michael Talbot explains the origin of holographic model in the work of Bohm dissatisfied with the standard theories’ inability to explain all the phenomena encountered in quantum physics, and, the work of Karl Pribram, a neuro-physiologist of Stanford University, who was likewise dissatisfied with the standard theories to explain neuro-physiological puzzles like for instance the apparent NON-LOCAL existence of memory within the brain.
Prior to the work of Pribram, it was generally assumed that specific memories had specific locations somewhere within the brain tissues called engrams. For example a rat trained to run a maze would have an engram of the maze in its brain; find that engram and cut it out, and the rat should become lost. But a series of experiments conducted by Karl Lashley (Pribram’s mentor) of the Yerkes Laboratory of Primate Biology demonstrated this was not so: the rat brains could be sliced, diced, shuffled and fricasseed – yet the rats still could navigate the maze.
To Pribram, the only explanation was that the memories were NOT located at specific sites within the brain, but were somehow spread out or distributed throughout the brain.
Pribram knew of no process or mechanism that could account for such a state of affairs – until he encountered holography. Just as one fragment of a hologram can create the entire holographic image (however, with less detail and lower resolution), so too can one fragment of brain remember the contents of the brain as a whole. THE BRAIN IS LIKE A HOLOGRAM.
And that is the thesis of Stanislav Grof’s book The Holotropic Mind. Grof is widely known as the father of transpersonal psychology – the idea that a person’s psyche is not necessarily limited to his brain. Under the right conditions (e.g. psychotropic drugs or holotropic breath work Transcendental Meditation) a person can experience “transpersonal” states of consciousness, and think the thoughts of other people, past lives, plants and animals, the planet itself or even the entire cosmos.
In 1982 at the University of Paris, a research team led by Alain Aspect discovered that under certain circumstances sub-atomic particles such as electrons are able to instantaneously communicate with each other regardless of distance separating them. It doesn’t matter whether they are 10 ft or 10 billion miles apart. This discovery violates Einstein’s tenet that no communication can travel faster than the speed of light, as this breaks the time barrier. David Bohm believes that Aspect’s findings imply that objective reality does not exist; despite its apparent solidity, the universe is at its heart a phantasm – a gigantic and splendidly detailed Hologram.
The holographic universe proves that the physical world we believe as real is in fact illusion. Energy fields are decoded by our brains into a 3D picture to give the illusion of a physical world. Look at it this way, things that appear to be solid like your chair, bed, computer etc. are made of atoms that are in fact virtually void, empty, yet the object appears to be solid. The same way things that appear to be “out there” just appear so because they are empty images in our mind.
String theory provides an elegant description of the universe by adding additional dimensions. But some other theoreticians think they have found a way to view the universe as having one less dimension. The work sprung out of a long argument with Stephen Hawking about the nature of black holes, which was eventually solved by the realization that a black hole’s event horizon could act as a hologram, preserving information about the material that’s gotten sucked inside.
The same sort of math, it turns out, can actually describe any point in the universe meaning that the entire content of universe can be viewed as a giant hologram – one that resides on the surface of the whatever two-dimensional shape will enclose it. Berkeley’s Raphael Bousso described how these ideas were explored out to encompass the Universe as a Whole.
As he put it, the math that describes how much information a surface can store works just as well if you get rid of the black hole and event horizon. Any surface that encloses an area of space in this universe has sufficient capacity to describe its contents. As something falls into a black hole, passing the event horizon, the quantum information held in the event horizon can be encoded to reveal information about the interior.
Therefore, the information inside the black hole’s event horizon is not destroyed. If the information about the interior of a black hole is encoded in its event horizon, scientists have come forward to point out that perhaps the information inside our universe is encoded in the universe’s horizon –the limit of the observable universe some 13.7 billion light years away. If the information is coded in the horizon of our universe, could it be that everything within this boundary is simply a holographic projection of this outer “shell.”
All this comes out to the basic idea: the universe can be described using a hologram. The work on the quantum properties of black holes culminated in the last decade and it suggests remarkably that all we experience is nothing but a holographic projection of processes taking place on some distant surface that surrounds us. You can pinch yourself and what you feel will be real, but it mirrors a parallel process taking place in a different distant reality.
Unit 2.4: Triumvirate of Matter, Energy & Information
Ask anybody what the physical world is made of, and you are likely to be told “matter and energy”. Yet if we have learnt anything from engineering, biology and physics, information is just as crucial an ingredient. A robot at the automobile industry is supplied with metal and plastic but can make nothing useful without copious instructions telling it which part to weld to what and so on.
A ribosome in a living cell in spite of amino-acids and ATP molecules around cannot synthesize proteins without the information brought to it from DNA in the cell nucleus. A century of developments in biology and physics, has taught us that information is a crucial player in physical systems and processes. By studying the mysterious properties of black holes, physicists have deduced absolute limits on how much information a region of space or a quantity of matter and energy can hold.
It is now becoming increasingly clear that our universe which we perceive to have three spatial dimensions is perhaps “written” on a two-dimensional surface, like a hologram. Our every day perceptions of the world as three-dimensional would then be either a profound illusion or merely one of two alternative ways of viewing reality. Even a black hole appears to be a part of cosmic illusion.
Abhas Mitra, eminent theoretical physicist, had questioned the very existence of black holes. According to Mitra, Einstein’s general theory of relativity prohibits both the formation and the existence of (finite mass) black holes.
Unit 2.5: Universe is a Consciousness Hologram
The universe is a consciousness hologram. Reality is projected illusion within the hologram. It is a virtual experiment created in linear time to study emotions. Our hologram is composed of grids created by a source consciousness brought into awareness by electromagnetic energy at the physical level. The hologram is created and linked through a web or grid matrixes based on the patterns of Sacred Geometry.
The hologram had a beginning and it has an end, as consciousness evolves in the alchemy of time. As the grids collapse, everything within the hologram will end. In media we find films, television shows, books, and games, based on the concept of a hologram. Among the more easily recognized are Matrix (Illusion), The Thirteenth Floor (Simulation), Inception (Dream), the Holodeck (Grids) in the TV serial Star Trek, Second Life an internet game and The Holographic Universe, a 1991 book by Michael Talbot.
And this may amaze many that the Digital Production Company, in near future, is all set to make late Elvis Presley come `alive’ on stage. The ‘King of Rock n Roll’ Elvis Presley will be brought alive on a stage in a hologram image. This virtual image of the late singer would be created for a range of entertainment projects.
Unit 2.6: Quantum Mysticism
Quantum Mysticism is a term used rather derogatively by those who discount the idea that quantum physics supports mystical beliefs. There are respected physicists who support this idea. What this idea means is that consciousness is a fundamental part of universe, just like space, time and energy. The basis for this is discoveries and new interpretations of quantum physics.
The eminent American physicist John A. Wheeler put forth the idea of the Participating Anthropic Principle, which states that a conscious observer influences the outcome of an experiment. That would mean that in this “participatory universe” consciousness is the main driving factor of creation. Barrow and Tipler, supporting the idea, go so far as to say: “Observers are necessary to bring the universe into being.”
And, John A. Wheeler says: “I do take 100 percent seriously the idea that the universe is a figment of the imagination.”
Unit 2.7: Bose-Einstein Condensate
What kind of physical structure could possibly be associated with consciousness? It is argued, taking in view the unity and complexity of states of consciousness, that no classical physical system could play the role. Among quantum systems a Bose-Einstein Condensate has the right properties. The brain probably contains one and only one system of this kind – a pumped phonon system described by Froehlich – which is hypothesized to be the substrate of human consciousness.
A phonon is a collective excitation in a periodic, elastic arrangement of atoms or molecules in condensed matter. A Bose-Einstein Condensate is the equivalent of a laser; except that it is the atoms, rather than the photons, that behave identically. Its atoms behave like they were a single atom. Technically speaking as temperature drops each atom’s wavelength grows; until the waves of all the atoms begin to overlap and eventually merge.
After they merged, the atoms are located within the same region in space, they travel at the same speed, and they vibrate at the same frequency: they become indistinguishable. The atoms have reached the lowest possible energy called “zero-point” energy, the minimum energy an atom can have.
The intriguing feature of a Bose-Einstein Condensate is that the many parts of a system not only behave as a whole, they become whole. Their identities merge in such a way that they lose their identity: illusory entities interacting in illusory ways, and, ultimately losing their illusory identities in the ever existing eternal pure consciousness.
Unit 2.8: Dreaming and Quantum Physics
We now understand that matter can exhibit both wave and particle properties. And that measurement or observation of matter causes a `wave-function collapse’, resulting in an actual sharply well-defined outcome. Some speculate that the reason why observation causes the wave-function collapse is because a feature of observation is “conscious awareness.”
Perhaps then the dream exists in wave-form until we consciously observe it, through lucid dreaming. And then the lucid dream, unlike an ordinary dream, becomes a definite outcome rather similar to physical reality. This might mean that the lucid dream is actually as ‘real’ as the waking world. One can also say that the waking world is as `real’ as the lucid dream.
Unit 2.9: God Particle Higgs Boson
Diagram given as below summarizes the tree-level interactions between elementary particles described in the Standard Model. Vertices represent types of particles, and edges connecting them represent interactions that can take place.
The organization of the diagram is as follows: the top row of vertices (leptons and quarks) are the matter particles; the second row of vertices (photon, W/Z, gluons) are the force mediating particles; and the bottom row is the Higgs boson.
July 4, 2012 was the day when after decades of hard work and spending billions of dollars, researchers at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN, have announced that they have gathered enough evidence to show that the “God particle ” answering fundamental questions about the universe almost certainly does exist.
The focus of the excitement is the Higgs boson, a subatomic particle long sought by physicists. Two teams of about 3000 physicists each – one named Atlas, led by Fabiola Gianotti and the other CMS, led by Dr. Incandela – operated giant detectors in the collider sorting the debris from the primordial fireballs left after proton collisions. Protons are present in the nuclei of atoms, the basic unit of matter and are composed of even smaller particles: three quarks held together by massive gluons. In the collider the protons are accelerated at 99.99999991% of the speed of light. Quarks and gluons inside the proton collide and explode with enough energy to create Higgs particle.
For particle physicists, finding the Higgs boson is a key to confirming the standard model of physics that explains what gives mass to matter and, by extension, how the universe was formed.
The existence of the Higgs boson is predicted by the Standard Model to explain how spontaneous breaking of electroweak symmetry takes place in nature, which in turn explains why other elementary particles have mass.
Higgs boson is supposed to have originated a trillionth of a second after the Big Bang created the universe. Boson, one of the two (other is fermion) fundamental classes of subatomic particles, is named after Satyendra Nath Bose who preceded Higgs. Noble winning physicist Leo Lederman unwittingly named Higgs boson as `God Particle` though he wanted to call it `Goddamn Particle.’
Theoretically visualized some fifty years ago, frantic chase of Higgs boson has led to a serious scientific and spiritual dialogue.
Richard Gerber in ‘God Particle the Movie’ says: “Consciousness is the stone that creates the waves in a sea of nothing.” Richard had talked about the “Death of Particle Physics” and the birth of “Intangics”.
Physics is focused on the tangible giving rise to intangible and resulting appearances. Intangics is based on the intangible giving rise to the tangible and the underlying framework that gives rise to appearances.
Richard puts the view “that there are no particles in the universe, only the appearance of particles.” Richard had asked, “Considering the wave nature of the universe why we are looking for the particles?”
Deepak Chopra, author of ‘War of World Views’ says:
“If you went to church in the 18th century, you would have heard God described as a celestial clockmaker who had wound up the universe and left it to run itself. Today, the wind-up is the Big Bang and the clock’s parts are subatomic particles. But the problem of creating matter out of emptiness remains the same.
“How does matter form from the immaterial? What gives particles their mass, and how do they stick together? The physicists at the CERN facility in Europe are busy using the massive multibillion-dollar Large Hadron Collider to try to answer those questions by hunting for the elusive Higgs boson, the so-called “God particle”.”
And: “The excitement over finding the Higgs particle is that physical science will have uncovered the mechanism for how the tangible world arises from the intangible. That’s as close to the divine act of creation as physics can get. Yet there’s an irony in basing the solid physical universe on nothing. Could this in fact be where materialism destroys itself from within? The Higgs boson may be the key to unlocking the mystery of creation by affirming very different things than materialism dreams of.
“Assuming that the particle allows itself to be discovered, the second step is the exploration of the invisible domain. It is literally nothing, yet everything comes out of it.”
Rohini Godbole, a particle physicist at the CERN, rightly points out:
“For any particle physicist who has been Higgs-hunting for the last 30 years, this was like a dream come true. …Now the particle has been found, what next? Now we have to look at how to establish this discovery, what future pathways towards the truth it will lead us to. (The Times of India, 7 July 2012).”
Unit 2.10: Holographic Universe and Spiritual Evolution
Mary Sutherland is an eminent scholar and interpreter of what she calls as `Philosophical Anthropology’ – a discipline that seeks to unite the several empirical investigations of human nature in an effort to understand individuals as both creatures of their environment and creators of their own values. She makes us aware of our gradual transformation from Homo sapiens to Homo luminous.
Under the caption `The Holographic Universe & Our Spiritual Evolution’ Mary Sutherland (2006) describes:
In the beginning was Thought.
Thought (I am) materializes (reality) on this planet as vibrating light (hologram) brought in through an electrical frequency (vibration/sound).
Thus what we `see or think’ of as a solid reality is a hologram created through `thought’, `light’ and sound .
Everything in this material world is here because our Higher Light Frequency of Self has called them into being.
Each frequency of your thought or word spoken is coded to materialize in the visible realm.
Thus the holographic projection is merely an extension or expression of your Higher Vibratory Self on a slower or denser vibration.
However, it is coded for manifestation for only a period in what we call `time’ and this time it must either loose or speed up its vibration.
Death: What we call ‘death’ is your Higher Self terminating the signal that creates the 3D Hologram and what happens during that time, can be compared to your turning off your television set.
The shows you were watching are still playing, you are still you continuing with other things, but the signal from the remote control has been interrupted and the connection has been temporarily lost.
We Are Not Alone
Although, at times, it may seem like it, we are not alone. Far from it. Actually, we are ‘One’ of the ‘All that Is’.
We are a ‘Collective Consciousness of Everything Created’. Our particles instantaneously communicate with one another regardless of distance. Whether we are ten feet or ten billion miles apart, somehow each particle ‘always’ seems to know what the other is doing. All information is possessed by the ‘Whole’ and although we ‘think’ we are separate from this whole, we are not.
Separation is an illusion – this ‘Whole’ or ‘All that is’ CANNOT be separated. All things in the universe are infinitely interconnected. All nature is ultimately a seamless web. At its deeper level, reality is – in itself – sort of a super-hologram in which the past, present and future all exist simultaneously.
It must be seen as a sort of cosmic storehouse of ‘All That Is’.
Keith Floyd, psychologist, in Holographic Paradigm states: “If reality is nothing but a holographic illusion, then the brain does not produce consciousness. Rather it is consciousness that creates the `appearance’ of the brain as well as the body and everything else that we interpret as physical.”
Module 3: Illusion sustaining Reality
Unit 3.1: Creation is Divine Incubator
Meher Baba says universe or creation is a Divine Incubator. Short of I AM or God Consciousness all other intermediary states are part of cosmic illusion.
Meher Baba explains:
“All these intermediary illusory states of God thrive in the illusion of cosmic Creation through multifarious and diverse gross, subtle and mental impressions of illusion; and though the entire cosmic Creation is illusion, yet it serves the purpose of a divine incubator, where consciousness of the Divine incubates, and where such incubation produces maturity to realize the eternal Reality after the consciousness is nurtured and progressively developed through multifarious, diverse and finite impressions and experiences of the opposites of the gross, subtle and mental forms and worlds of the cosmic creation.” – (God Speaks, p.143).
Our experience of the opposites ultimately and inevitably culminates in unbearable suffering. Deluded by desires we foolishly chase the shadows and try to hold them. Suffering pushes us to search the ultimate Reality and our own reality. We discover intellectually that we and Supreme Reality are One. Right now we are only `desiring individualities` – `I am this – I am that: I want this – I want that ` syndromes. Forgetting our old lives and dying as `desiring individuality’ we eventually, by the Grace of the Avatar of the Age or a Perfect Master, enter the infinite domain of Sat-Chit-Ananda Supreme Self– the Life Eternal. That indeed is our resurrection. Surging with Divine Love, we see our own supreme Self, here, there and everywhere – I AM in all and I AM as all.
In the words of Allen L. Roland PhD, author of `Conscious Love: The Ultimate Energy’:
The basic underlying and uniting force of the universe is a psychic energy field of love and soul consciousness (the Unified Field) which lies not only beyond time and space but ALSO beneath our deepest fears.
Christian scriptures tell us about the death and resurrection of Jesus. The Savior swallowed up death. He showed the illusory nature of this material world and everything which is in it, including death. He transformed himself into an immortal being through the power of his Father – God. He was lifted up from mortal existence, which is lifeless death, to divine existence, which is Deathless Life. He swallowed up the illusions of mortality to show us the hidden Way – the way of Love – to Immortality and Eternal Life.
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. And a second is like it. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40)
Buddha says: “The thought manifests as the word. The word manifests as the deed. The deed develops into habit. And the habit hardens into character. So watch the thought and its ways with care. And let it spring from love, born out of concern for all beings.”
Prophet Mohammad says:
“Do you love your creator? Love your fellow-beings first.”
“God is One, and liketh unity.”
Meher Baba, Avatar of the Age, says:
“It is for love that the whole universe sprang into existence, and it is for the sake of love it is kept going. God descends into the realm of Illusion because the apparent duality of the Beloved and the lover is eventually contributory to His conscious enjoyment of His own divinity.” – (Discourses p.115-116)
YOU ALONE EXIST
You Alone Exist Prayer by Meher Baba and Bhau Kalchuri describing the infinite nature of God. Images of Meher Baba, the God-Man, Music by Jim Meyer, Directed by Peter Nordeen.
ALL ARE ONE
The words of the song inspired by the words of Sri Ramakrishna the 19th century perfect master from Bengal. The theme is a universal idea that permeates many mystical poems, God is everywhere and everything! The music and lyric adaptation is by Mischa Rutenberg and offered to Beloved Meher Baba.
Our Sufi brother from Northern California, Mischa Rutenberg, has created a new music video ‘All Are One’. Enjoy how Mischa Rutenberg is able to set pure delight and joy to music as only Mischa can do!
THE ILLUSION OF REALITY~CONSCIOUSNESS & QUANTUM THEORY
All matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration. We are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively. There is no such thing as death, life is a dream, and we’re the imagination of ourselves.”~ Bill Hicks