Understanding Life (आत्म दर्शनम्)
Only the wise (धीराः – undisturbed due to resolution of all contradictions), who analyze and regress backwards to find the Ultimate Cause, will be able to perceive it. The first indicates Time (कालः – चिच्छक्तिर्नित्यसत्ताख्या कालः षड्भावयोगतः), the second Determinism (अन्यापेक्षणहेतोस्तु सङ्कोचान्नियतिः स्मृता) and the third Freewill (किञ्चित् कर्त्तृत्वरूपेण ज्ञानं सर्वज्ञता तथा । बुद्धिस्तत्प्रतिविम्बानां वस्तुनामेव बोधकः).
The first also represents the fixed aspect that develops to become material aspect, the second the ever-changing primordial energy aspect and the third the all-revealing information aspect.
नित्यो नित्यानां चेतनश्चेतनानामेको बहूनां यो विदधाति कामान्।
तत्कारणं साङ्ख्ययोगाधिगम्यम्। तमात्मस्थं अनुपश्यन्ति धीराः। (श्वेताश्वेतर, कठ) ।
The One, who is the (1) “Eternity” among eternals (नित्यो नित्यानाम्), (2) “Sentiency” among the sentient (चेतनश्चेतनानाम्) and (3) the “Ultimate Constituent” of everything (एको बहूनाम्), reveals all (कामान् – काम रजोगुणसमुद्भवः – गीता-3/37, कमुँ॒ कान्तौ॑, रजसा उद्घाटितम्) that is held in a specially compact manner (वि + दधँ॒ धार॑णे). IT can only be known through the concepts of Sankhya (साङ्ख्यम् – fundamental description about everything confined) practiced in accordance with the principles of Yoga (योग – coupling of the Observer and the Observed through the mechanism of Observation).
There is much misunderstanding about the word Darshanam (दर्शनम्), which is often equated with what is called Indian Philosophy. The word Darshanam (दर्शनम्) literally means the mechanism of observation and has been defined by Panchashikha (पञ्चशिख), a disciple of Kapila and one of the greatest authorities quoted by Vyasa, as:
‘एकमेव दर्शनम्। ख्यातिरेव दर्शनम्’ The meaning is, there is only one Darshanam, which is the totality of concepts about everything. It is called Khyati (ख्याति – ख्या॒ प्र॒कथ॑ने) – the basic concepts by which something is described. When we apply the principle of Darshanam to any particular subject or object, the limited concept becomes Vijnanam – science (विज्ञानम् – विशिष्ट ज्ञानम् – Vishista Jnanam or knowledge of the special characteristics that distinguishes something from others – साधर्म्य-वैधर्म्य – SAADHARMYA-VAIDHARMYA – similarities and differences). When Vijnanam (विज्ञानम्) or science is put to practical use, it acts as per its specific characteristics (चरित्र – CHARITRA). Hence, it is called चारित्र्य – CHAARITRYA – technology.
Thus, Darshanam is not philosophy, but universal basic concepts of everything fundamental that gives rise to science and technology. Since all Darshanam flow from the Veda, they are not contradictory, but complementary. Reductionist approach of treating the Darshanas as separate branches distorts their meaning. Vedas is the universal book of wisdom not limited to a particular race or sect or time, space or culture. It can be interpreted from three different perspectives: ADHIDAIVA (अधिदैव) or the energy perspective qualitatively known as RAJA – रज, ADHIBHOOTA (अधिभूत) or the material perspective qualitatively known as TAMA – तम, and ADHYATMA (अध्यात्म) or the conscious or information perspective qualitatively known as SATTWA – सत्त्व.
The operator for the energy perspective is called AKSHARA (अक्षरम् – literally non-perishable or always conserved), that for the matter perspective is called KSHARA (क्षरः – literally continuously perishable or mutable), and the conscious or information perspective is called AVYAYA (अव्ययः) literally not interacting – hence, not expendable (this refutes observer created reality), but which reflects as consciousness. The first Darshanam is Sankhya (साङ्ख्यम्). It is defined as: that which contains the total description about everything that is limited or confined (सम्यक् ख्यानं सङ्ख्या । सम्यक् ख्यायते प्रकाशते वस्तुतत्त्वमनेनेति सङ्ख्या । सा यस्मिन् वर्त्तते तत् साङ्ख्यम्). Sankhya (साङ्ख्यम्) deals with Akshara – the operator for energy of all types that leads to the creation (अक्षरात् सम्भवतीह विश्वम्).
Hence it begins with Nature – PRAKRHTIH (प्रकृतिः – which literally means प्रक्रियतेऽनया इति – the ingredients that leads to creation, or प्रकृष्ट कृति – approaching towards the first operation of creation – the rest are due to inertia only, or प्रकृष्टा मुख्या कृतौ सृष्टौ या सा – the primal operation that leads to creation). It is the equivalence of RAJA-TAMA-SATTWA, which makes it inexplicable (कारणानां गुणानां तु साम्यं प्रकृतिरुच्यते – KAARANAANAAM GUNAANAAM TU SAAMYAM PRAKRHTIH UCHYATE). This is the same as singularity in modern science. This leads to the emergence of sentiency with its information content classified into various groups based on energy evolution and emergence of charge based on proximity and distance variables that leads to प्रसवः – creation with positive charge and संस्त्यान – confinement with negative charge.
Sankhya (साङ्ख्यम्) divides everything into three groups: 8 Prakriti – प्रकृतिः (1 fundamental Prakriti – मूलप्रकृतिः and 7 Prakriti-Vikriti – प्रकृतिः-विकृतिः) that are not perceptible and are capable of acting as cause for creating specific effects. These give rise to the intrinsic constituents of perception (अन्तःकरणमित्युक्तं तत्तदाधिक्यसम्भवम्). Also these create 11 instruments of perception and action (the senses and mind – ज्ञानेन्द्रिय-कर्मेन्द्रिय-मन); and 5 material constituents (भूत) as effect (कार्य षोडशक). These effects cannot act as cause and do not give rise to other constituents. These constituents (भूत) are outwardly directed (पराञ्चिखानि) – hence interact and combine in different proportions with others to create everything (nucleons, atoms, molecules, etc.). Consciousness is beyond these (न प्रकृतिर्न विकृतिः पुरुषः). It is neither the cause for anything nor is it the effect of anything.
Sankhya ends with the five BHOOTA (भूतम्). Vaisheshika deals with the matter perspective called KSHARA (क्षरः), which are found (भू सत्ता॑याम्) in abundance (भूमा), can be obtained (भू प्राप्तौ) and can interact with others (भु॒वोऽव॒कल्क॑ने । मिश्री॒कर॑ण॒ इत्येके॑) – hence called BHOOTA (भूतम्). Nyaya (न्यायः) is the common research methodology for ALL Darshanam. The five BHOOTA (भूतम्) are not Earth, water, heat, air and sky (क्षिति-अप्-तेज-वायु-आकाश), as is commonly believed, but are universal description of everything mutable within a confinement – the inherent energies mutated due to interaction between themselves that make the same stuff behave differently. These mutable energies lead to five different types of interactions: अन्तर्याम – ANTARYAMA – now known as strong nuclear interaction, वहिर्याम – VAHIRYAMA – now known as beta decay part of weak nuclear interaction, उपयाम – UPAYAMA – electromagnetic interaction, यातयाम – YATAYAMA – now known as alpha decay, and उद्याम – UDYAMA – now known as gravity. When the field (क्षेत्र) is acted upon by these forces, they create the five elements.
These lead to five effects respectively, which are: creation of nucleons from the universal field through confinement – आकुञ्चन (process that generates quarks), creation of the confining layer within a limited area through contraction – अवक्षेपण (process that generate leptons), expansion to attain uniform density within a confinement – प्रसारण (process that generate electromagnetic interaction), all types of disintegration – उत्क्षेपण (process that leads to alpha decay) and placement of two bodies at the maximum possible distance against a common barycenter – उरूगायप्रतिष्ठा (process that generates gravity).
Akshara leads to the emergence of time (कालः) and then space, in a mechanism similar to the big bang or the big bounce, which leads to emergence of the all-pervading space (अक्षरात् सञ्जायते कालः कालात् व्यापकरुच्यते – AKSHARAAT SANJAAYATE KAALAH, KAALAAT VYAAPAKAH UCHYATE). Everything is perceived only when it is in a state of transition, which is possible only through energy (रजसा उद्घाटितम् – RAJASAA UDGHAATITAM). Time and space arise from our concepts of sequence and interval (परत्वापरत्व – PARATWA-APARATWA).
Time is the sequential (ordered) intervals (क्रमिकअवकाशः) between events that require energy for its emergence. Space is the sequential (ordered) intervals between objects that are nothing but bundles of energy, which are created in events. It is also the universal base or field for everything that appears in 16 different ways. Since everything is described using some markers and intervals do not have any markers, they are described through alternative symbolism (विकल्पः – VIKALPAH) of the boundary events and objects respectively. Both time and space are infinite (अनन्तम्), as we cannot see any end of it. Infinities co-exist. Hence we have space-time.
Space is the cause for differentiation of positions of objects, universal base where all objects are found; and connects everything through the intervals (कालात् क्रिया विभज्यन्ते आकाशात् सर्वमूर्तयः). Fundamentally, time and space are non-changing bases (अमूर्तः) and are analog (आधारशक्तिः प्रथमा सर्वसंयोगिनां मता). We use different segments of this infinite field or common space or interval related to different objects for our specific use (संयोगिधर्मभेदेन देशे च परिकल्पते), which are its digitized versions (मूर्तः). Just like the space between two objects is not related to the objects, the infinite space (परमाकाशः) is also not related to the compartmentalized space (धटाकाशः) or the quantum space (दहराकाशः), which are temporary adjuncts (उपाधि) only.
Apart from the five elements and time, Vaisheshika also deals with position or sequentially differentiated spatial co-ordinates (दिक्), mind (मन) and Self (आत्मा).
Position (दिक्) is the order of arrangement of the objects in space with reference to some origin (दिक् – इत इदमिति यतस्तद्दिशो लिङ्गम्). It is different from the space, which is the interval between the objects and is the substratum of all objects. It is different from the objects, whose boundaries make the space perceptible. The interval only, without specifying their spatial arrangements, will not give a proper perception of the position of an object.
Thus, the arrangement of the objects at the boundary of the intervals has to be specified. This arrangement cannot be confined to two positions or two objects, as the relative position of one object from another cannot be distinguished in the absence of a further reference. If there are only two planets in the universe situated at a certain interval from each other, the inhabitants would not know the exact position of the other planet.
Sometimes they would see it in front of them and at other times, they would not see it at all. Thus, a third frame of reference is needed for proper perception of the relative position of the two planets. For this reason, Einstein had to introduce the third clock as a privileged frame of reference.
Hence the concept of observer related spatial classification is misleading. With reference to the third frame of reference, the two positions are fixed. If we describe the different positions in the universe unambiguously, we must take the whole universe as a frame of reference. Thus, all positions have an absolute existence.
Position is defined as the cause for the perception of the following aspects of objects:
1. The space or the interval between two objects may not describe the true position of an object as there can be innumerable ways of arranging two objects with a fixed interval (व्यतिरेकस्य यो हेतुरवधिप्रतिपाद्ययोः). Hence a proper co-coordinated system is needed for describing the true position of an object at a given interval from another object. That, which is the cause for the perception of such co-coordinated system is called position – दिक्.
2. The spatial interval between two objects may not be their true interval (ऋज्वित्येवं यतोन्येन बिना बुद्धिः प्रवर्तते). For example, the spatial difference between two points on the surface of a circle is not the actual distance between them. This can only be determined only after the surface connecting the two points are described geometrically. This needs a geodesic system to describe the true position of an object at a given interval from another object. That, which is the cause for the perception of such geodesic system is called position – दिक्.
3. The different forces move the objects differently. However, there are certain fundamental characteristics associated with the fundamental forces of Nature and space (कर्मणो जातिभेदानामभिव्यक्तिर्यदाश्रया). For example, the strong force always contracts, the weak force always limits or consolidates itself towards a central point (a positive ion), the electromagnetic force always disperses away from greater concentration, the gravitational force disperses in directions determined by the masses of bodies, and the space permits the bodies to expand. This needs a vector system for describing the position of an object after application of some force. That, which is the cause for the perception of such vector system is called position – दिक् (सा स्वैरूपाधिभिर्भिन्ना शक्तिर्दिगिति कथ्यते).
At any moment, our sense organs (इन्द्रिय) are bombarded by a multitude of stimuli. But at any instant only one of them is given a clear channel to go up to the thalamus and then to the cerebral cortex, so that like photographic frames, we perceive one discrete frame at every instant, but due to the high speed of their reception, mix it up – so that it appears as continuous. Unlike the sensory agencies that are subject specific (eyes can only receive electromagnetic radiation, ears only sound, etc.); the transport system within the body functions for all types of sensory impulses. This occurs against concentration gradients with the input energy like the sodium-potassium pump in our body, which moves the two ions in opposite directions across the plasma membrane through break down of Adenosine triphosphate (ATP).
Concentrations of the two ions on both sides of the cell membrane are interdependent, suggesting that the same carrier transports both ions. Similarly, the same carrier transports the external stimuli from sensory agencies to the cerebral cortex and back as a command. This carrier is the “indriya” – इन्द्रिय – called mind (मन – म॒नँ॒ ज्ञाने॑, मनुँ॒ अव॒बोध॑ने). The existence of mind is inferred from the knowledge or lack of it about external stimuli and their storage in memory. Only if the mind transports different external impulses to the brain for mixing and comparison with the stored data, we (Self – आत्मा) know about that (for the first time impulse received about something, there is no definite ‘knowledge’).
The brain acts like a computer. In communication technology, in addition to encryption (language phrased in terms of algorithms executed on certain computing machines – sequence of symbols), compression (quantification and reduction of complexity – grammar) and data transmission (sound, signals), there is a necessity of mixing information (mass of text, volume of intermediate data, time over which such process will be executed) related to different aspects (readings generated from different fields), with a common code (data structure – strings) to bring it to a format “it is like/ not like that”. Such mixing is done through data, text, spread-sheets, pictures, voice and video. Data are discretely defined fields. What the user sees is controlled by software – a collection of computer programs. What the hardware sees is bytes and bits.
In perception, data are the response of our sensory agencies to individual external stimuli. Text is the excitation of the neural network in specific regions of the brain. Spreadsheets are the memories of earlier perception. Pictures are the inertia of motion generated in memory (thought) after a fresh impulse, linking related past experiences. Voice is the disturbance created due to the disharmony between the present thought and the stored image (this or that, yes or no). Video is the net thought that emerges out of such interaction.
Software is the memory. Hardware includes the neural network. Bytes and bits are the changing interactions of the sense organs (string) with the respective fields generated by objects evolving in time. It requires an agent to mix these signals and convert them to electro-chemical information and submit to a conscious agent (operator) to cognize and utilize them. In perception, the former tasks are done by a transitory neural activity in brain called intellect. Though, it is not directly perceptible (प्रकृतिलयाः), it is inferred from its actions – firing of positrons in specific areas of brain during perception.
Hence even after the breath stops, a person may not be brain dead as the intellect (and not the mind) may still be functional. While mind facilitates the transport of various external impulses, the interpretation after mixing of the state of superposition of various thoughts/inputs in memory (विकल्प), is done by transitory intellect. The Conscious Self that cognizes is different from all these. We can know about something that exists only when it is revealed to our Self for observation. All revelations involve instantaneous transfer of energy, whose existence is realized only during change of state of the observed.
Since the basic concepts cognized by all persons at all times are similar, and since the cognition of “I” is always related to all perceptions, it must be universal. It does not grow or reduce. It is not affected by any transformation, like the Sun is not affected when the water flows or is muddied and its reflection is affected by such actions. When water flows from a higher position to lower down, if it faces an obstruction, it takes whatever channel is available and goes till its surface balance is maintained. On the other side (side facing Earth), it acquires the shape of the Earth’s surface. It is like casting of a die for using mould to create a shape. Similarly, all impulses carried by mind is mixed and presented through reflection by intellect for observation by Conscious Self – आत्मा, which is the repository of all concepts. After it is compared with the data bank (memory) of concepts associated with Self, we cognize as ‘I know this (the object) is like that (the concept)’. That ‘Knower’ or ‘Observer’ is Consciousness – आत्मा.
The instruments cannot do anything on their own. They need a conscious operator directly or indirectly in a chain reaction. When we use an instrument, a command goes to our hand to perform certain function. Who gives such command? The brain cannot give the command on its own, as there is no difference between the brain of a man just before and just after his death. Similarly, when we receive some impulse and respond to it after interpreting it, it cannot be attributed to either the body or the mind or the sense organs, which are inert. A dead person does not respond to such stimuli. Even after a person loses eye-sight or hearing, he remembers the earlier memories of vision or hearing. Since mind is a transporter of different impulses only, it cannot be conscious, because it cannot generate impulse and memory at the same time. Thus, memory is a function of the Self.
A conscious being always tends to get the things harmonious to it and move away from the things that are repulsive to it being guided by the previous experience from memory. An inert object does not do it. There are many more proof in support of accepting the existence of a conscious self – आत्मा.
इन्द्रियाणि पराण्याहुरिन्द्रियेभ्य: परं मन: ।
मनसस्तु परा बुद्धिर्यो बुद्धे: परतस्तु स: ।। Gita 3:42
The sense organs are great or noble, it is said, but more than senses, the mind is great, the intellect is greater or higher than the mind, and the soul or life is greater than the intellect.
At the sensual level: Happiness obtained from the senses may be called pleasure. Examples – a beautiful scenery, good food, or a good song. Happiness at this level has two main drawbacks – 1. It is temporary. 2. It also has a ceiling or limit – any pleasurable sensation is perceived as ‘boring’ after some time.
At the level of the mind: This may be called ‘joy’, for want of a better term. All pleasures do not give happiness of mind. Some may lead to profound grief.
परिणामे विषमिव तत्सुखं राजसं स्मृतम् || Gita18: 38
The pleasure that arises from contact of the sense organs with the objects, which feels like nectar at first, but is like poison in the end, that happiness is called Rajasic. People sacrifice some of their pleasures to get happiness of mind. Therefore this level is subtler but stronger than the first.
Happiness at this level is deeply influenced by social norms. “Peace of mind” is happiness. “Freedom of worry” is happiness. Since mind is receptive, happiness in this level is “being”, not “thinking”. It is “letting go”. If a person is constantly thinking about himself and “worried about being happy”, that person can never be happy. People usually have lots of hobbies, likes, friendships, interests and diversions, which make them deeply involved. Joys last longer than pleasures, but they too are not permanent. They also depend much on factors outside – like the situations that people are in, present ‘trends’, other peoples’ views and behavior etc.
Happiness at the first two levels has a trap. In an unstable person, objectives like money, power, and sensual pleasures can create longing-thoughts (sankalpa) about them. This leads to the so called chain of samsara, which is anticipation – disappointment – longing – fulfillment – desire – and when blocked, anger and frustration; when fulfilled, increased longing and anticipation. The tragedy is that such desire and longing (sankalpa) is actually for illusionary happiness, because the happiness that these people crave to get from such things are never worth for so much addiction, painful plotting and suffering. By their deluded mind they also make others suffer.
At the level of the intellect: This may be called ‘delight’, for want of a better term. Sometimes people find themselves in situations where they have everything in the material world which are perceived in the mind as joys, but still they feel depressed. For normal people, this is because the intellect has identified a problem which the mind declines or dislikes to accept. The mind, in its natural state, always wants to be “free”, to “let out of control”. But you cannot run away from this problem, therefore you are depressed.
The intellect is the decision making, rational control above the mind. With practice, one can identify thoughts, pick up what is wanted, and wipe out the rest. This clarity of the intellect provides one freedom from worry, and helps decision making. It can be achieved by meditation and concentration. Solving problems, helping others, sacrifices we make for a better good, doing one’s duty with skill, self control, etc. all give rise to delight at the level of the intellect.
We see many great people, willingly undertaking hardships and untold miseries for what they have decided to be a for greater good. Such people are willing to sacrifice their present happiness of mind for happiness at a higher level. Therefore happiness at the level of the intellect is subtler but stronger than happiness of the mind.
यत्तदग्रे विषमिव परिणामेऽमृतोपमम् |
तत्सुखं सात्त्विकं प्रोक्तमात्मबुद्धिप्रसादजम् || 18:37
That which feels like poison in the beginning, which evolves towards the end to be like nectar; born of happiness due to knowledge and self-realization, that happiness is said to be sathwik (pure).
At the level of jeevan (life): When one begins to perceive the ‘other’ eternal and all-embracing part of oneself, the ego begins to accept the other part also, and the intellect now willingly begins to submit to the jeevan or life, which is the Soul, or Iswara. Submission of the intellect can be made a lot easier by developing a strong devotion to God.
At this stage, one may feel an ‘Unbecoming’ of one’s ego. Many people develop a fear at this stage that they would willingly sacrifice everything in the material world in this state of mind, if they go further. But there is no cause for fear, as it does not mean one is to throw away any responsibility, including that to one’s own perishable body. The feeling at the fourth level can be called ‘bliss’, and the happiness is subtler but stronger than at the level of the intellect.
Man is free to be happy at any of these levels. The two things to be borne in mind are 1. That happiness at one level should not conflict with its higher level, and 2. Should not fall into the trap of sankalpa leading to the chain of samsara as explained earlier. If it does, agony is what one gets, instead of happiness.
From the discussion it is evident that man’s happiness cannot be judged simply by how much of perishable items he has, such as wealth, friends or relatives, or even his standard of life. No two people will be equal in their happiness even if all their possessions are equal in quantity. We see many people in the grasp of dreaded diseases, yet remaining perfectly peaceful in their life.
Knowledge of happiness gives proof that none of our values has to be ignored, and nothing bad has to be done, to be happy. Knowing the limitations of happiness at various levels give men real freedom. Instead of being slaves to the senses and greed, men become the masters, with strength to control, pick and choose. From animal, man evolves.
Knowledge about happiness can change the hardest of criminals. In the Upanishadic times, men were not spoken of as good or bad. Instead, they were recognized into two types – the learned and the ignorant.
As a person ages, the pleasures and joys that he had so much relished in childhood would become boring and that person will gradually feel that he cannot enjoy them as he had done in his youth. This is a natural process. What is actually happening is that the person is “growing” to the third and fourth levels of happiness as he ages and becomes more mature.
True happiness of the Soul is said to be the highest bliss that any human being in the world can achieve. But the Soul is hidden from the intellect by a multitude of pain-pleasure attachments and like-dislike ties which developed from interaction with the perishable world (kshara), beginning right from birth. Hence, these two are, naturally, the two opposites which we have to outgrow to become one with the Absolute Truth.
When the mirror of a person’s mind begins to get clear from the dust and dirt of these numerous pain-pleasure attachments and sankalpa, it begins to shine with wisdom, and pure and radiant happiness, reflected from Within. All we have to do is to stop running after pleasures and attachments; relax, and clear the mind.
योऽन्त:सुखोऽन्तरारामस्तथान्तज्र्योतिरेव य: ।
स योगी ब्रह्मनिर्वाणं ब्रह्मभूतोऽधिगच्छति ।। 5:24
The one with happiness from Inside, the one who is in union with Inside (Universal Soul), and the one with light (knowledge) from within, that yogi becomes the true manifestation of this base or Brahma, and becomes one, and acts as one, with the Cosmic Body. Happy life with best wishes