[Advaita-l] Facts, Opinions and Opinions about Facts - II Science of Vedanta
kuntimaddisada at yahoo.com
Sat Aug 17 16:36:22 CDT 2013
PraNAms - continuation of the series to the JK list - for those who are interested.
Facts, opinions, and opinions about the facts- II
Science of Vedanta
We said science deals with facts. Facts are truths independent of the investigator. Science that we know involves only the objective realities which are independent of the subject who is investigating. We gave an example – Light travels at certain speed – a fact that was discovered by objective scientists. Actually the word – science - is derived from the root – scier – meaning to know. Hence the word science means knowledge. Interestingly in Sanskrit – vid – also means to know and Veda means knowledge or science. We will try to present here why Vedanta is the science revealing the absolute truth. Coming from a scientific background, I try to avoid what some JK followers call as dogmatic views, speculative ideas or conditioned beliefs. We agree that - truth - should be independent of the investigator or his mental state, conditioned or unconditioned. Just as in any objective science, to discover or to investigate any truth, the mind has to
be suitably prepared or should have certain pre-requisites for that science. Otherwise unprepared (or wrongly prepared) minds may come up with opinions about the truth, which may or may be correct, from the point of the truth. These aspects we discussed before.
As we know, the objective sciences only deal with objectifiable facts using objective tools for analysis. Validation or verification of these truths is done by perceptual experimental data only. Without validation, even if they are true, they remain as speculation or beliefs only. Again, the validation can only be done by properly trained or appropriately conditioned minds, and using only the appropriate tools for validation.
Every knowledge involves three essential factors called triad; a) knower (the subject, conscious entity, the investigator), b) known (the object that is being investigated, the truth) and c) method (investigative method by which the knowable becomes known to the knower – thus connecting the first two). For example, direct perception is the method of knowledge for the objects that can be known via senses by the knower, the subject I. From my point, even the others beings are objects of my knowledge via direct perceptual knowledge. I see you or hear you, etc., therefore, your existence is known to me. If none of my senses are working, then all objects – beings and non-beings – their existence become indeterminate, from my reference. In essence, a conscious entity has to be there to establish the existence of any object or inert entity. Without the conscious entity present, the existence of the world is indeterminate; called in Sanskrit as
anirvachaniiyam. That is, it may exist or it may not exist.
Logic can be another method of knowledge to deduce the facts that cannot be directly perceived but can be logically deduced based on the perceptual data. Existence of any force can only be established by logical (deductive or inductive) process, which can be subsequently confirmed by its predictive effects via perceptual (experimental) data. For objectives sciences, perceptual data form the basis for validation or verification. Inherent assumption is that whatever is perceived forms a valid knowledge. However, there are cases where erroneous knowledge can arise based on perception. The famous example is one seeing a snake which is actually a rope in a semi dark alley. The mind cognizes that it is a snake based incomplete or inadequate sense input. While it may be error in perception, the effects of that error can be more real in terms of adrenal response causing fear, increased blood pressure, fight or flight syndrome, etc. Do not be afraid and similarly
do not get angry, do not be sad, etc. are common psychological advises that we receive, but they never work since these are responses both at mental and subsequently at physical levels which are reactions to the situations. We cannot control the reactions but we can control the causes that contribute to these reactions. While these topics are of importance and will be discussed later, suffice here to say that lack of accurate knowledge of the fact (that it is a rope) can contribute to erroneous knowledge (that it is a snake), and can trigger the unwanted reactions at the mental and subsequently physical level. The case in point is the perception of snake where rope is. These are subjective errors in the sense I only see it as a snake, while the others who have better vision may see the rope as a rope. The innocent rope has nothing to do with the snake that I have created in mind. For me, the snake is not in my mind but out there where the rope is and is
ready to bite me, instigating me to do something to protect myself. Fight or flight syndrome arises from this erroneous perception of the truth. Later when I see the truth as a truth, that is, when I see the rope as rope, say by shedding torch light on it then the fear in the mind as well as the associated adrenal effects at body level also disappear. The snake that was created by mind disappears in my mind with the knowledge that it is a rope, which, of course, is not my creation.
A fundamental law that we arrive based this example is that when we do not apprehend the truth as a truth, we tend to project the false as the truth and suffer the consequence of that misapprehension. This forms the fundamental human problem, says Vedanta. The solution to the problem obviously is seeing the truth as truth by using the appropriate means of knowledge valid for that truth.
The most important point here is that all objective sciences are intrinsically limited by their restriction, since they can analyze only one of the three factors in the above triad – namely the objectifiable or knowable entities. Thus, all objective sciences can give at most only one third of the total knowledge, which should include, in principle, the knowledge of the subject, object and their relation. The fact is, these three are inseparable in any knowledge.
Thus all objective knowledge provides partial knowledge of the total; and partial knowledge forms only working knowledge but not absolute knowledge. Just as a side point, because of this intrinsic incompleteness of the objective knowledge, an interesting byproduct of this is that one becomes more ignorant as one gains more objective knowledge. This is because as one gains more and more knowledge in any field, he discovers that there are more things he does not know. He recognizes that his ignorance of the field is more than the knowledge he has gained. He becomes super specialist in any field knowing more and more of less and less. Longing to know more is never fulfilled in the thirst for knowledge in any objective fields.
Unfortunately the objective sciences cannot investigate the subject, the conscious entity, even though lately some scientists are trying. The reason is very simple; the subject cannot become an object and object cannot become a subject. I cannot investigate, who am I, the subject, the conscious entity, by objectification. All I can come with such kind of objectification is I am this, or this or this, where this is an object and I am is the subject that is different from the object, this. All our pages of bio data that answers the question of who I am as this, this and this is not really I am, since I cannot objectify myself as I am this. Bio-data serves the purpose in the transactional word (called vyaavahaarika satyam or transactional truth and not absolute truth).
Interestinglyego is nothing but a notion that I am = this. I am is the subject and this is an object of my knowledge. I am, the subject is different from the object, this. The fundamental confusion is obvious in the very existence of ego. When I identity myself with object, this as I am, I automatically exclude that as not I am. This can be any objectifiable entity, starting from this body, this mind, this intellect – anything and everything that is knowable and as mentioned above all the bio data of pages and pages that we provide boasting ourselves is nothing but I am this, this and this. The bigger is this, this and this, bigger I am. This is what I have and that is what I do not have or do not yet have. Thus more I have, more I am. The whole rat race is solely due to the fundamental confusion of taking what I am not as I am, says Vedanta. This in fact the fundamental conditioning of the mind that prevents knowing the truth of the knower, I am.
All other conditioning that JK talks about is only the building of the castles on this or identification of myself with this – where this can be religious beliefs or non-religious beliefs. I am a JK follower is another this only which is again conditioning the mind as I am this. One needs to have a supersensitive mind as JK says to detect this conditioning, which Vedanta also states emphatically and it calls it as discriminative faculty or viveka required to discover what is real and what is unreal – since I am this is not real knowledge.
Now to wrap up the topic, we call Vedanta deals with absolute science or knowledge only because it deals all the three factors in the traid, knowledge of the knower, known and the relation between the two. The title of this list serve says you are the world or I am the world – The world comes under this which is inert entity and I am is the subject, the conscious entity. If I am the world, there is no more division between the subject I and the object this. To understand this where the interrelation between the subject I and object this and to see the unifying factor that unifies the three factors, triad – is indeed the subject matter of Vedanta. It involves the total knowledge not fragmented knowledge involving only part or parts of the knower-knowing and knowing as in objective sciences. Hence Vedanta is not a religious dogma, while one can call it as dogma if one does not know the truth or only has opinion about the truth. In one of the
Upanishads, the end part of Vedas, one student approaches his teacher and asks – sir please teach me that knowledge knowing which there is nothing else left that need to be known. Thus he is asking for complete knowledge which is absolute knowledge that involves knowledge of the totality which Vedanta calls as Brahman or infiniteness. In the infinite there are no divisions of any kind. Vedanta however recognizes that just for knowledge in any field requires a prepared mind or pre-requisites for investigation and to gain that knowledge, to gain the absolute knowledge also the mind requires a frame of mind, mind free from conclusions about oneself, about the world and about the relation between the two. Such a prepared mind is called pure mind. Purification is by a process only since the impurities are accumulated by a process, but the purification process should get self-removed along with the impurities that it removes. An example often given is –
in olden days they use to purify the water for drinking by adding kataka nut power which spreads uniformly on the top of the water due to its surface tension. It becomes a film, becomes heavy by absorbing water, and slowly sinks to the bottom capturing all the colloidal impurities on its path. In the end, the water is free from both the dirt and this kataka nut powder, in addition to leaving the water with a healthy taste.
For those who are interested in the understanding this division-less knowledge, I suggest listening at least to the first talk on Satdarshanam, which means vision of the truth.
If you already have pre-conceived notions about it then it will be useless to listen to the talk.
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