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Why God is a Scientific Construct
Vaishnava literature describes four forms of God—Vasudeva, Saṅkarṣaṇa, Pradyumna, and Aniruddha. These four forms are also said to be the masters of mind (Aniruddha), intelligence (Pradyumna), ego (Saṅkarṣaṇa) and mahattattva (Vasudeva), which are material elements in Sāńkhya. This leads us to ask: how is God the “master” of a material element, and how is the relation between God and the material element established? This post delves into the relation between God and matter, and how a complete understanding of any material element involves an understanding of God. In a very specific sense, therefore, science (as the study of matter) is incomplete without knowledge of God. Table of ContentsThe Four Subtle ElementsThe Four Forms of GodFour Different SpacesThe Relation to Hierarchical SpaceWhat This Means For ScienceModulation and Quantum TheoryAtomic Theory and MeaningsCan We Empirically Perceive God?Eternal and Temporary Truths The Four Subtle Elements In Sāńkhya the mind represents ideas, but not just any type of idea; specifically, the mind stands for object concepts—e.g. “table”, “chair”, “house”, “watch” etc. From these object concepts, other concepts are derived. For example, to describe a “table” we have to employ some senses such as “sight”, which will then employ some observable properties such as “shape” and “color”, which will be converted into some values such as “redness” and “blueness” for “color”, “square” and “circular” for “shape”, etc. The object concept “table” is more subtle than the concept “sight”, which is more subtle than the property “color”, which is more subtle than the sense object “redness”. In Sāńkhya, this hierarchy is described as manas → indriya → tanmātra → sthūla-tattva. All these four tiers are “concepts”: object concept, sensation concept, property concept, and value concept. At present, science has evolved its own object concepts (e.g. particle and wave), indriya (measuring instruments), tanmātra (properties such as mass and charge), and values (quantities). Modern science believes that nature was not designed for perception. Nature just exists, and our perception is an accident. Since our senses and the world are not meant for each other, some of the properties of the world can never be known by our senses, and some of the capabilities in the senses can never be fulfilled in the world. This now becomes the source of our scientific frustration: we try to know the world and control it, but sometimes we can, and sometimes we can’t. Science becomes incomplete because nature (according to science) is not “designed” for our knowledge and control. The problems in science arise not due to these specific concepts, but due to the belief that nature wasn’t designed for perception and control. This belief is further expanded into other beliefs such as “nature is uniform everywhere”, “nature has no subjective properties”, “nature is material objects”, “matter moves by physical forces”, etc. Sāńkhya is that shift in which everything in nature can potentially be known, and every capability in our senses can potentially be used. Without this belief, nature is not completely knowable and controllable. Current science stands at a juncture where conceptual revision (i.e. new object concepts, new properties, new instruments, and new mathematics) isn’t adequate. We have to instead change our beliefs, which are deeper than scientific concepts. These beliefs exist in the intellect which is used to perform judgments of truth and false. For example, if I believe that you are a liar, then no matter what you say it would be considered a lie. Since we have some beliefs, we only listen to those people who agree with those beliefs, and we avoid those who disagree with us. Even if we encounter those oppositions, we ignore them, take them lightly, or find fault in their views. Further up the hierarchy of subtlety, beliefs can be changed only when our intents or goals are changed (at the level of the ego). If we want to achieve something different, then we would be inclined to believe differently. For example, I might believe that science can never be used to prove the existence of God. No matter what anyone says, I will use my belief to judge someone’s claim, and no matter how convincing the argument, I can still reject it based on the premise that this might all be a very elaborate illusion. Until, of course, I change my goal: namely, I might develop a desire to use science to prove the existence of God. Once I develop that desire, my belief system automatically undergoes an important change: I start recognizing that it should be possible to achieve such a goal, and then contrary and favorable evidence is evaluated with the aim to achieve the goal—e.g. the contrary evidence becomes how I should not try to fulfill the goal, while the favorable evidence becomes the method by which I can fulfill the goal. In short, if I already have a predetermined belief, only a change in goals can bring about a difference. If we have a goal, then no amount of external evidence may be sufficient to change it. For example, someone might think that she has been unsuccessful on a hundred previous attempts, but might succeed in the very next attempt. No matter how many times you fail, your conviction about success can keep getting stronger, and your determination to achieve the goal can fly in the face of all failure. The only way to wean someone off a futile goal is to make a change in their value system where they consider the goal to no longer be valuable. For example, you might feel that your time is better spent on other worthy goals. If your values have changed, then your goals can be changed. Therefore, you have to seek happiness in another way, and that quest will in turn change your goals. This intuitive description of human psychology underlies the Sāńkhya model of mind, intellect, ego, and mahattattva. The mahattattva is our moral values, which are chosen by consciousness. Once these values are changed, our goals are altered automatically. Once the goals are altered, the beliefs are automatically modified. As the beliefs are modified, the concepts in the mind are automatically revised. The revision of concepts in the mind leads to a shift in sensations, which then leads to perception of different sense objects. In other words, change happens from inside-out, not outside-in. To bring about a change in our experiences, we have to change ourselves, rather than the world. The Four Forms of God Vedic texts describe how these four subtle elements are “ruled” by four forms of God, namely, Vasudeva (mahattattva – the moral sense), Saṅkarṣaṇa (ego – the intentions and goals), Pradyumna (intellect – beliefs and judgments), and Aniruddha (mind – concepts). The mode of goodness, which is the clear, sober status of understanding the Personality of Godhead and which is generally called Vāsudeva, or consciousness, becomes manifest in the mahattattva. (SB 3.26.21) The mind of the living entity is known by the name of Lord Aniruddha, the supreme ruler of the senses. He possesses a bluish-black form resembling a lotus flower growing in the autumn. He is found slowly by the yogīs. (SB 3.26.28) Our dear Lord, You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, and You are also the supreme enjoyer. You have now appeared as the son of Vasudeva, a manifestation of the state of pure goodness. You are the predominating Deities of mind and intelligence, Aniruddha and Pradyumna, and You are the Lord of all Vaiṣṇavas. (Krishna Book 16) The three types of egotism (ahaṅkāra) are technically known as vaikārika, taijasa and tāmasa. The mahattattva is situated within the heart, or citta, and the predominating Deity of the mahattattva is Lord Vāsudeva (Bhāg. 3.26.21). The mahat-tattva is transformed into three divisions: (1) vaikārika, egotism in goodness (sāttvika-ahaṅkāra), from which is manifested the eleventh sense organ, the mind, whose predominating Deity is Aniruddha (Bhāg. 3.26.27-28); (2) taijasa, or egotism in passion (rājasa-ahaṅkāra), from which are manifested the active and knowledge-acquiring senses, along with the intelligence, whose predominating Deity is Lord Pradyumna (Bhāg. 3.26.29-31); and (3) tāmasa, or egotism in ignorance, from which sound vibration (śabda-tanmātra) expands. From sound vibration, the sky (ākāśa) is manifested, and then the senses, beginning with the sense of hearing, are also manifested (Bhāg. 3.26.32). Of these three types of egotism, Lord Saṅkarṣaṇa is the predominating Deity. In the philosophical discourse known as the Sāṅkhya-kārikā, it is stated, sāttvika ekādaśakaḥ pravartate vaikṛtād ahaṅkārāt — bhūtādes tan-mātraṁ tāmasa-taijasādy-ubhayam. (Sri Caitanya-caritamrta – Madhya 20.276 Purport) This leads to the question: How is God connected to matter? How is He “ruling” a material element? This question is problematic because matter is an illusion in Sāńkhya. If God is connected to an illusion, does it mean that God is also an illusion? If God is connected to matter, then by the old mind-body interaction problem, God too must be material? This problem requires a shift in understanding matter and spirit. Matter and spirit are two different substances in Cartesian Dualism, most of Western philosophy, and even in Christianity. In Sāńkhya, however, matter and spirit are two kinds of ideas, judgments, intents, and morals . Matter is false ideas, bad judgments, evil intentions, and corrupt morals. Spirit is true ideas, good judgments, pure intentions, and virtuous morals. There is no fundamental difference in “substance” between matter and spirit, as far as our perception goes (there are some differences which I will cover shortly). God, even in the material world, creates all the ideas, judgments, intentions, and morals, from His own form. The form of Vasudeva is the original form of virtuous morality from which a number of corrupt moralities are created. The form of Saṅkarṣaṇa is the original form of pure intention from which a number of evil intentions are created. The form of Pradyumna is the original form of good judgment from which a number of bad judgments are created. The form of Aniruddha is the original true concept, from which a number of false concepts are created. God is pure and perfect. But God is also the origin of the impure and the imperfect. The impure and imperfect is connected to the pure and perfect by a process of distortion, modification, filtration, and unwanted amendment. Matter is the mirror in which God is reflected, but the mirror is distorted. Therefore, God’s reflection is also distorted, and the perfect becomes imperfect. We must note that all the concepts, judgments, intents, and morals are created in unmanifest form or possibilities. God is not forcing us to accept them. It is the soul or the jiva who accepts them. Four Different Spaces All these ideas can be summarized succinctly into a scientific format in which mind, intellect, ego, and mahattattva are different kinds of “spaces”. At the “origin” or “center” of this space exist the pure and perfect idea, judgment, intent, and morality. However, as you move away from the center, the ideas, judgments, intents, and morals are increasingly distorted. The basic insight here is that as we move away from God (and “away” has a literal meaning in terms of a “distance” in a space), the pure and perfect becomes impure and imperfect. God is the origin of the space, the different distortions of the original form are different “distances” from God which constitute the material energy. In other words, material energy is nothing but “distance” from God or the center of perfection. In an earlier post, I described how the center of the space is simple, and as we go outward from the center we get more and more complexity. The “distance” from the center, therefore, becomes a measure of complexity. What is this complexity? It is the number of successive distortions or modifications applied on the original and pure form. For example, if you want to create a new idea, you start with the original form of Aniruddha (also called Paramātma) and apply a succession of distortions. Each successive distortion represents the “distance” from Aniruddha and after many such distortions have been applied, we get a new form that we call our new idea. This new idea is based on...