[The wave image below depicts a wave packet, the wave aspect of a particle; but unlike the physical particle this wave packet is not in physical space; it is a vibration in an abstract mathematical space known as Hilbert Space. The only physical significance of this vibration is that it is related to the probability of finding the physical particle within a given volume of physical space.]
Quantum mechanics is the physics of microscopic phenomena. Newtonian physics which is known as classical physics describes all natural phenomena in the scales observable by humans, namely the macroscopic world. But when we enter the world of atoms Newtonian mechanics breaks down. Atomic phenomena cannot be explained or understood in terms of laws of physics postulated by Isaac Newton. Physicists of the 20th century had to find new laws and postulates that could explain and predict atomic phenomena. This new physics which applies to small scales is known as Quantum Physics, or Quantum Mechanics. It has been shown that all the laws of Newton and classical physics can be derived from the laws of quantum mechanics. In fact, the laws of quantum mechanics are the fundamental laws from which Newtonian physics is derived as an approximation or a special case. In other words, our world is essentially quantum mechanical and not Newtonian, though we perceive only the Newtonian aspect of it at human scales: World is Newtonian when you look at it, but it is quantum mechanical when we are not looking at it. But this itself is a prediction of quantum mechanics: According to the principles of quantum mechanics the world at human scale must appear classical and Newtonian.
What distinguishes quantum mechanics from classical mechanics is the wave-particle duality. It is possible to explain all the strange phenomena of atomic realm by reference to the dual nature of elementary particles. Here I state and restate the fundamental features of quantum mechanics all of which are based on the wave-particle quality. The fundamental constituents of nature have a particle aspect and a wave aspect, and above all their particles aspect is entangled to their wave aspect which is the source of all the strangeness of quantum phenomena. Below I present the deep physical and philosophical implications of foundations. If it is too technical at certain points it is because their omission would damage our purpose. (FE=Fundamental Entanglement)
1) There is a fundamental entanglement between certain physical variables. The most important of these are position, momentum, energy, and time: Position x is fundamentally entangled with momentum p. Energy E is fundamentally entangled with time t.
2) The product of these fundamentally entangled variables is always of the dimension of classical action which has the dimension of angular momentum. [xp] = [Et]
3) Due to this FE there is always an uncertainty relation between any pair of fundamentally entangled variables whose products have the dimension of action. Thus, the uncertainty relations involve Planck’s constant h.
4) This FE is expressed in De Broglie equation which is also the expression of wave-particle duality:
Pλ = h
De Broglie’s equations tie the particle aspect to the wave aspect, the product of which has the dimension of action again: P stands for the momentum of the particle; landa stands for the associated wavelength, and h is Planck’s constant. De Broglie’s equation is also equivalent to the two following equations:
Here P stands for the momentum of the particle; k known as wave-number stands for a wave aspect related to wavelength; E is energy, and omega is the angular frequency. In both these formulas the left hand side is related to the corporeal aspect, and the right hand side is related to the wave aspect. The relation, the FE, is mediated by Planck’s constant.
5) Considering the classical relations for the phase of a wave, kx-ωt, if we replace the wave number and the angular frequency with their quantum mechanical counterparts we arrive at the following which relates the phase to action:
6) Beginning with only the De Broglie relation we arrive at quantum mechanics when we consider the wave phase above to be the phase of an abstract wave which is obtained by replacing the above formulate with the one in classical waves: kx-ωt =(px-Et)/ɦ
In the classical case we generally write wave as following:
Now insert the phase relation above to obtain the equivalent wave formula:
Ψ(x,t)=ei(kx-ωt) = ei(px-Et)/ɦ
The above which is obtained from imposing the De Broglie relation on classical waves is nothing but the quantum mechanical wave function, the solution to the Schrodinger equation which plays the role of Newton laws in the microscopic realm.
If here we define the action S to be: S = S(x,t) = px-Et, then we can write the wave function as following:
This is the most general form of quantum mechanical wave function as the solution to Schrodinger equation. As a matter of fact, this wave is the solution to Hamilton-Jacobi equation in classical physics. If we differentiate the above wave function with respect to time, and replacing E with the Hamiltonian H, then we derive the following non-linear partial differential equation:
This is none other than the famous Hamilton-Jacobi equation from which we can derive the Schrodinger equation:
This is the wave equation for quantum particles. The peculiar fact of wave-particle duality is that the particle aspect is related to a wavelength of a non-physical wave. The wave aspect of phenomena, which is related to vibrations, is not a physical wave; it is a wave in an abstract Hilbert Space, and hence not observable. In other words, the observable aspect of phenomena is associated with the vibrations of a non-observable wave. This is the wave-particle duality that is behind all strangeness of quantum mechanical world. We can express the De Broglie formula of wave-particle duality in a more philosophical way:
The manifest is associated with the vibrations of the unmanifest.
This expression, though still different from saying that “the manifest is the vibration of the unmanifest,” is a restatement of Advaita Vedanta metaphysics. But it is also the very definition of string theory.
More details about this subject can be found in my book Nondual Perspectives on Quantum Physics.
44 thoughts on “From Quantum Physics to Advaita Vedanta Metaphysics”
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Thank you. I am new to this subject but have heard about it from my husband and son! You explain very well, as is usual!
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Thank you for reading and commenting; this was part of my research work which I found too interesting not to share; and it is great to know that it communicates my ideas 🙂
Great article! Even a layman can understand a great deal about QM from this. For entanglement, are we not assuming distance (position/time) to be real? What is distance in QM and how real is it? If distance is real, can it be ever overcome? For example, we see the same distance covered by aircraft in 1 hour, by train in 5 hours and by walk in 5 days. If we take 2 points in say Euclidean space, there are going to be infinitesimal points in between them. So, there can only be jump between 2 points and nothing can smoothly cross over from one point to another because what does “crossing between 2 points mean unless it is a jump?. This shows that even the macro universe is discrete in nature. The continuity and pattern can only be ideas of consciousness which manifests as experience and which we externally observe and derive formulas, equations, patterns which are somewhat equivalent to the original ideas in consciousness. But if behind phenomena, an underlying intelligent consciousness is accepted, then distance has no meaning and quantum entanglement etc may not be a wonder and can be explained as ideas in consciousness. Then Hilbert space can be a conscious space of potential ideas and the manifest world can be the actualized experience. This is called karma in advaita metaphysics.
Time and space in physics are relative. The distance between two points is meaningless irrespective of the observer. The same goes for time. But distance is something that can be measured and this sense is as real as the observer; but its value depends on observer. What is actually invariant is Lorentz Lengh. The Lorentz length between any two spatial points is actually zero. This length is a length in space-time rather than space. Space-time is quite different than space alone since we are all traveling with the speed of light relative to space-time frame. Their reality holds insofar as these can be measured, but the same is true for consciousness. Consciousness too is an idea. When you say ideas in consciousness, this human person and mind and world and its conscoiusness are ideas as well. The observed reality or nature is as real as the mind or consciousness that understands them, but its form depends on the observer. If we posit the unreality of world, then a logical consequence is that everything in that world, including humans, minds, and their consciousness are unreal as well. Then our idea of the unreality of the world too is as unreal as the world itself. But what refutes the idea that entanglement is just a mental phenomenon is that it can be actually measured and have a result without being measured or observed by any human consciousness. However, since the methods of physics are different than those of metaphysics we can’t explain one in terms of the other, though there may be hints in between. Physics speaks about the variables that can be measured and have numerical values, and the laws of physics are about these variables. Whether this is all a dream or a concrete reality, physics holds either way. The interesting thing is that the laws of physics are independent of whether the world is real or not.
But an important point that is often missed is that when we assume this world to be unreal we must understand that this means the assuming consciousness too is unreal. The individual and its mind and consciousness and his thoughts and ideas are all parts of the illusion.
As you said in the comment continuity breaks down in QM but still there are logical problems: When you say due to discontinuity there has to be a jump, then what is this jump over? What does jumping mean but covering a distance in between. If the distance in between doesn’t exist, then there is no jumping at all. But we know that quantum jumps happen in between atomic orbits, however they are not ordinary jumps; they’re unimaginable. This is what makes QM peculiar. But its validity and truth are established experimentally, no doubt in that. The unreality occurs at much higher levels than the physical. With respect to this world everything is real. World itself is neither real nor unreal. It is just an experience; but it is not my experience or yours, thus all of our ideas, including belief in non-reality, are unreal relative to the Supreme Reality.
What is interesting is that according to QM physical phenomena are associated with some vibrations that are not physical, vibrations in Hilbert Space. Hilbert space is purely mathematical; reality is not in my heard or in yours, because our heads are part of the whole illusion.
Thanks Tomaj. What I meant by consciousness is not human consciousness. I meant the consciousness which holds the world. I mean the knowing absolute Self + mass of transcendental ideas. This mass of ideas is what we call maya in which human consciousness as an observer is also part. What I am trying to say is that physics is only trying to recognize the patterns which manifest from the cosmic consciousness without recognizing the underlying reality of consciousness.
I totally agree with that. But physics is not designed to do the underlying part. Its methods are not suited for this kind of job. Physics is what I call a “world science.” It applies to what is inside the world; it cannot detect the absolute consciousness and it shouldn’t. Like the human body that has different organs for different kinds of tasks, the task of grasping the Self should not be mixed with the task of physics. The reason is that the two require different methods of inquiry. Self cannot be discovered within the world; it is not something you measure in an instrument; it is only to be be experienced directly. Meditation is the method of grasping Self; but you cannot use meditation to discover quantum physics without which none of us would have our blogs or could read the books that we do, etc. You cannot expect from a hand to hear sounds or from ears to see. Each should have its specific task and if mixed it will become dysfunctional. You need the world and its sciences in order to discover the self; but the methods that apply to inside the world should be different from those that apply to Self discovery. Quantum physics, for instance, cannot produce samadhi or detect consciousness; but this is not a defect but its specific function; and Advaita Vedanta or meditation can never come up with QM or natural laws that make possible your blog and my blog and all that happens here; this too is not a defect of sciences of consciousness such as Vedanta metaphysics. It is that each must have its own specific function.
A very delicate point about reality or unreality of a world is that in order for the world to be unreal, the experience that gives that world has to be real. In order for a world to be a dreamworld, the dreaming itself has to be real and not a dream. From this angle everything of this world is real. If it is unreal that would be relative to the Absolute which is the transcendental consciousness; it is not unreal relative to our minds or consciousness. Relative to a human individual this world is real since he too is part of it. Thoughts and ideas, including the idea of consciousness, are all part of the game. The supreme reality, however, cannot be characterized in principle. Consciousness is a word we use since we don’t have a better world. The difference is that world has relative reality while the transcendental consciousness is absolutely real. The problem with mixing physics with metaphysics is that the two cannot be mixed due to difference in methods. Things have to be observable in order to have a place in physics. But there is a point of contact between physics and metaphysics which is the De Broglie equation. It explains all quantum phenomena.
The result of all science should be to discover the true Self which is behind the human consciousness and behind the world experience. At least science should indicate whether this is an inert universe or one with consciousness and intelligence behind it. What is the use of explaining every phenomenon but still not knowing what is behind all this phenomenon? One of the results of QM is that the very observation affects the fact, which means Truth cannot be found out by discovering more particles or identifying more patterns because the observer or experiencer is part of the experience itself! When this is understood, one has to seek what is behind the experiencer and not decode more experiences as an experiencer. That is, seek the Truth of experience itself. Then science can be fully correlated with Advaita Vedanta metaphysics, because Advaita Vedanta gives primacy to the abstract intelligent consciousness called the Self. And this is also linked with ending of the suffering of human beings from their separation from the source called Self. That very Self which is absolute, also lives in the human beings as the witness Self and the pure science which started with discovering Truth of this universe, should lead to it. Otherwise the boundary between pure science and engineering will become blurred.
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This is the aspect with which I disagree. On what grounds do you say that “the result of science has to be discovery of true Self?” As I mentioned in my previous comment the method for discovering Self is different from the method of probing atoms. Now if science were to do only the discovery of Self, then you would not have the means that make it possible for you to know what Self really is in the first place! I do agree that there should be a science for the Self and its discovery, which already exists under the name of metaphysics, and which is best produced in Advaita Vedanta; but its methods are different and should be different from physics. As I said Vedanta or philosophy are essentially inadequate in their understanding the world itself. The ultimate goal of metaphysics is truth; but this doesn’t mean that the metaphysician should not eat or read or write, etc. Physics and all other sciences of the world are designed to provide the means of man’s worldly life which is as necessary for the discovery of Self as meditation is. Metaphysics should not be mixed with physics, otherwise we will have only useless superstitions. People tend to forget how their daily lives depends on modern science. And even more the life of people like me and yourself who want to devote ourselves to truth. Without the aid of this modern science we will be hunting all day outside knowing nothing about such a thing as truth. So in this sense, physics has made much more contribution to truth and discovery of Self than metaphysics has done. I myself see myself more of a metaphysician than a physicist, but it is objectivity and seeing things as they are that is most important aspect of metaphysics. The best example of these functions is the human body which is the symbol of world. Each element has to do its separate function and each is equally necessary.
Regarding universal consciousness, its ideas are the real world; they are not illusory. If the idea of individual consciousness are mental entities, the ideas of the supreme consciousness are real entities. It is only relative to the transcendent truth that everything is illusory; relative to cosmos and consciousness as we know everything is as real. None of the aspects of the physical world are mental. Now physics or modern sciences applies to these but cannot apply to the absolute consicousness itself. No more that a hand can touch a sound. Each must have its own proper method. At the same time modern sciences do not aim at truth and they should not. In this sense it is naive to expect from physics to do a metaphysical job. But of course we must remember that physics doesn’t produce truth and it doesn’t even claim or intend to do so. It is only after theoretical models with practical applications. However, it is possible to see within nature symbols and archetypes that resemble the metaphysical truth, the reason being that the physical is the projection of the metaphysical.
SRK, I should emphasize that I am totally in agreement with you. What I consider to be the problem of modern science is not its method or its results; I do know that this sciences are not designed for Self discovery so such expectation is unrealistic. But they should be aware of this thing, that sciences doesn’t give the absolute underlying reality but only theoretical models. This understanding is lacking in a lot of scientists. But it is equally important for the metaphysician to understand that their approach too is not designed to create the means of Self discovery which is the job of the sciences of the world such as physics. Each must stick to its own duty. The truth being non-dual in nature it must be all inclusive; if it excludes worldly knowledge or consider it unimportant, then it is not the truth anymore. It is just another religion. Truth must be welcoming to the unity of physics and metaphysics, yet seeing that the two are complementary sciences and not compatible,. Much like Yin Tang.
Hi Toomajj! I’m struggling recently with “Dance of the Photons” from Zeilinger. Your posts from QM came in time. Thanks!
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kindly consider the meaning of sloka 63 of chapter 18of Bagvat Gita . i do not mean any affinity to any religion or sex but for pure wisdom.
63. Thus has wisdom more secret than secrecy itself been declared unto thee by Me; having
reflected over it fully, then act thou as thou wishest.
Sarvaguhyatamam bhooyah shrinu me paramam vachah;
Ishto’si me dridhamiti tato vakshyaami te hitam.
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Thank you partha for this beautiful quote. Self is all inclusive; there is nothing that should be excluded from it since all is Self.
I am not saying science should specify how to discover Self. How will I say that, when science is only gathered knowledge. Science should openly declare that it cannot find the ultimate Truth given its method which is purely intellectual. Originally science started with finding ultimate Truth and it branched off to more mundane things later. But even now science has a desire to explain everything by way of discovering a “God particle”. But it is not able to do so. So science can openly declare that it does not concern itself with Truth. However within phenomenon science has great validity though the approach has become more empirical nowadays. Not every theory is validated and not every observation has a theory. Of course science has led to many useful inventions. Necessity is the mother of invention. But if invention itself becomes a compulsive necessity, then it is a disorder! Also usefulness has nothing to do with Truth as you yourself say that.
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I totally agree here; my main criticism of science is exactly as you said, to understand that the ultimate truth is not, and cannot be, the business of science; and this is so for methodological reasons and the way science is defined in the beginning. Interestingly many scientists themselves, not all, are aware of this limit; but it is mostly the fanatic fans of science that are ignorant of this limit. For instance, one cannot use the results of physics to deny the existence of Self because it is the Self that makes such denial possible in the first place. Self belongs to a sphere of knowledge that is well beyond the scope of physics. I personally do not see these world sciences to be producers of knowledge. There should be a distinction between knowledge and information. All modern sciences deal with information, while knowledge is always only the knowledge of the Self. Knowledge has to be absolute and certain while information, or what is known as fact, is by definition contingent. I am more worried about the fanatic fans of modern science rather than scientists themselves. And of all scientists I believe physicists are more aware of the limits (not to fancy my own field 🙂 . Biologists and psychologists still see the world as a materialistic one, and their sciences are not as exact as physics. Psychology is really not even a science. But regardless of exactness, they are all, as you mentioned, concerned with fact and not with truth. But even though since they are all projections of supreme reality they must contain indirect, symbolic patterns that reflect the Self. For example, in physics the Einstein law of mass-energy equivalence: E=m. which is archetype of the formula: I am Brahman. Many such instances can be seen in physics. Not that energy is consciousness, but energy is the worldly projection of consciousness, etc. These symbols are my primary interest, though most physicists are oblivious to them. If there is one truth, then all things must point toward it, whether directly or indirectly. 🙂
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Thanks Tomaj. The limitation of science with respect to Truth should become common knowledge. Otherwise people are waiting for science to answer them instead of doing their own original inquiry and also ignoring what is truly valuable in spiritual literature like Vedanta which can completely free them from bondage and inner suffering and make them know what they are and this world experience. As you say, the original thinkers of Western science may be aware of the limitation just like the early 20th century scientists who discovered Quantum Phenomenon, but it is the fans of science, who waste their time by remaining agnostic not knowing that one has to remain agnostic only to find Truth! We have had perhaps 400 years of pure science and still if Truth is elusive, one should declare that the approach is inadequate. That is what I wanted to bring out more explicitly. Though the quantum scientists discovered the role of consciousness in observation, they didn’t declare it openly that one has to look into oneself for Truth! Each scientist had his own view about the results. That is why in Advaita Vedanta there is something called sruthi pramana. Sruthi means Veda and pramana means evidence. Also it is Apourusha, that is impersonal. Just like word of God. And it has declared that Self alone is real and everything else is a superimposition on Self. One has to use one’s own reasoning, also take into consideration the sruthi vakya (the declaration of Veda) and also compare with one’s own experience to arrive at Truth. This is called sruthi, yukthi and anubhava. All 3 modes of knowledge have to agree.
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Yes. This is one of my own goals, to show that science has a specific function and finding truth isn’t that. But the reason behind this ignorance is people themselves. People are naturally fanatics; they either become obsessed with religions or science. Objective inquiry is rarely seen. But another important thing is that inquiry after truth is not something that the majority of people want to do; they are not even interested in it. Pursuit of truth is always for a few, and those few will eventually understand the limits of science. The majority must live so many lives that they finally become interested in knowing what truth is. Especially in Kali Yoga ignorance pervades, so I am not personally bothered by people’s misunderstanding of science; people always misunderstand. Objectivity is the highest virtue but it is very rare. And it is always more important for the person himself to be awakened before he/she wants to guide others. The mass always picks the wrong thing. Awakening our own Self should be priority; and ironically when we do that we become silent then; we are ok with all the ignorance in the world since we know it should be there or that action is ignorance. Absolute detachment liberates one even from trying to correct society. Knowledge of Self is never transmitted or imposed on others. Only the person should seek and find it. So if the limit of science is not common knowledge should not concern you and I since you already know these limits. As you mention the different modes of knowledge should agree, and in this case I know that physics and metaphysics agree perfectly, though a lot of scientists are not aware of this because they are not concerned with metaphysics. Physics too should not be concerned with or involved with metaphysics, but nonetheless all of its results beautifully agree with metaphysical truth. One of these agreements is exactly what I mentioned in this post, that what is manifest is associated with the vibrations of the unmanifest, or E=m formula. Physics is on the right path and is already in agreement with metaphysics. Other sciences need serious work which won’t fall under my own interest. But I am guessing others who are metaphysically oriented will figure this out. Or QM itself; there is no other scientific theory that perfectly described the ultimate reality than QM. The agreement is so accurate that one can see QM as the mathematical formulation of advaita Vedanta metaphysics. Mathematics itself is the language of truth. From QM you can arrive at the same conclusion that Vedanta claims, though you cannot get to QM from Vedanta. It is fascinating.
The idea in Vedanta that reality and existence has never happened; that nothing has ever happened; in reality there are no ideas, no projection and no manifestation, nothing whatsoever. There is an unchanging reality that has never moved. All being illusory. QM comes to exact same conclusion, and even proves it mathematically. Even the unreality of material universe is a logical consequence of QM. Modern physics is closer to the nature of truth than any other discipline even Vedanta metaphysics. Of course it can never produce the experience of truth since this experience has to be personal; but it proves metaphysical truths. The agreement between the two is fascinating. especially after my own experience I saw a fascinating agreement between metaphysics and physics and my own experience of truth that became the motivation and basis of the book I wrote. Modern physics, modern philosophy as phenomenology, and Advaita Vedanta metaphysics, are all one and the same; they are only 3 different ways of explaining one and the same thing. Phenomenology is a more scientific and more exact formulation of Vedanta metaphysics. Vedanta was formulated based on the experiences of mystic and also vedas; but phenomenology arrived at the experience from shear force of logic; it showed that transcendental experience is possible and necessary. And it found the exact method; this is a fascinating discovery which wasn’t known to Indian philosophers. But what is important is the unity of the three disciplines; and that they perfectly agree if we see them as they are.
I agree with everything you have written except one point about Vedanta not using reasoning and logic as the sole means of discovering Truth. You need to read Guadapada Karika in Mandukya Upansishad and it is called Asparsa Yoga and it is the hidden tradition. Nirvikalpa samadhi and all mystical experience and basing on Vedas etc belong to surface tradition. In Asparsa yoga, you reduce yourself to Brahman through pure reasoning after considering all experiences. This is the tradition which I also follow where one isolates oneself through pure reasoning and detachment . With open eyes, one has to find the Truth. When the reasoning ends and all doubts vanish, the Self reveals itself and that is the natural samadhi or permanent enlightenment. It is not an experience. It is the Truth behind all experiences and absence of experience also! Even many instances in Yoga Vasishta and Tripura Rahasya insist this reasoning aspect than experience or faith aspect.
Also, does phenomenology consider sleep and dream experience ? Or does it only consider waking experience ? Because if it doesn’t take into consideration the sum of all human experiences, then it cannot possibly arrive at Truth whereas the Mandukya takes into consideration all experiences and declares that Truth is non-dual. It is called asparsa (non-touch) yoga because it doesn’t touch a second thing. This is a totally non-mystical approach to reduce oneself to the ultimate Self which is the only mystery!
Because if one really takes into consideration sleep experience also, one will not attempt samadhi. In sleep naturally there is absence of time, space and objects. But that does not enlighten us any further. We wake up with same understanding as we went to sleep. But we can know the Truth behind sleep also because when we wake up we say “I didn’t know anything”. This shows that Self was witness to this state also otherwise we could not have reported that we didn’t know anything. So likewise samadhi as an experience still needs the Self as witness. Only Self is the true samadhi and all else is experience only. Through pure reasoning which takes into consideration the “I”, intellect, mind, senses and the whole of human experience (sleep, dream and waking, fainting, samadhi etc) one directly discovers the non-dual Truth which is uncontradictable. This is called asparsa yoga.
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Most of this I agree with, but the part about discovering truth through pure reasoning I am certain it is not true. It is possible to arrive at the necessity of the existence of the Self through reasoning; it is possible to be convinced of its truth and the non-existence of the world. But it is not possible to “see” the Self as the ultimate reality through pure reasoning. Insofar as someone thinks so it only means they have not seen the real Self. Reasoning cannot grasp or discover the Self as it is since reasoning itself depends on the Self. Self appears only when everything else disappears, including mind, senses, etc. Direct discovery doesn’t happen through pure reasoning. Reasoning is a process in time; time must pass in order for reasoning to be possible. In this sense, all the objects of reason, all conclusions of reason, are bound by time. Self, however, transcends all. It is only indirect proof or evidence that can come through pure reasoning. But it is a common mistake to conclude so, since it is possible for people to become absolutely convinced of the existence and non-duality of Self; it is possible for them to use pure reasoning to see that there is one non-dual Self. This is precisely what phenomenology does. But the mistake comes here that they then assume that Self is something to be known through reason, an intellectual or mental conviction. This is exactly the state before the direct experience of truth. The ultimate direct proof and direct discovery is only through direct “seeing.” This is a seeing not of a kind known to humans. But it is not reasoning at all. But there is a huge difference between a person being convinced through pure reasoning and when he/she sees. Before seeing there is still a lot of mental or intellectual effort and engagement, perhaps constant thinking about the Self, or efforts to sustain the idea of Self. But after seeing all efforts are gone and they won’t even think about the Self since it is already known. Silence is the result; one goes does the life just as one wishes without any concern with intellectual or religions rite or duty. Before that there is still a thirst for Self but after there is not thirst. It makes a huge difference; but pure reasoning is never it; it is not the end and they know it very well. The importance of knowing this difference is that they should know that there is more to know, that they should proceed with their efforts until they see. What you find through reasoning you have to sustain through effort. But what you see you won’t even have to think about it to know it. Seeing is the ultimate step since reasoning is just an illusion.
Phenomenology of course considers all experiences. Phenomenology is the science of experience regardless of whether it is in dream or waking state. The success of phenomenology is however in its production of the result, exposing the absolute reality. Whatever means it uses it is justified since it produces the end result that other successful metaphysics, such as Vedanta, create. If it were just a theoretical system without ending with a transcendental experience, then it is just opinion and conviction. Phenomenology already has arrived at truth; its proof is the performance of Transcendental Reduction. And what is common in both vedanta and phenomenology is that both use a descriptive method. They both arrive at truth through pure description of experience. What phenomenology does is that it doesn’t divide experience into three regions; it studies experience as such, whether dreaming or not. Again the simple proof both of vedanta and phenomenology is transcendental experience of truth and not intellectual conviction. The success of both Vedanta and phenomenology lies in their ability to produce this transcendental experience which is ultimate evidence of truth. All other argument over their validity is futile where there is direct experience to validate it. The only difference I see between the two systems, besides historical and some intellectual difference, is the precise method of attaining to that transcendental experience. In other words, the mechanism of ignorance and knowledge becomes much more clearer in phenomenology. But this difference I mention is just an observation; it is not at all about judging either system. I am personally fond of Advaita Vedanta metaphysics. I could not have attained the experience of truth through Vedanta if I didn’t do phenomenology, but I find Vedanta to be as good. So it is not at all a matter of one being better since such discussions are meaningless. I don’t own phenomenology or Vedanta, so I have no prejudice over either. But if phenomenology is logically more rigorous you must see that it is simply because it came centuries later, thus it had to go through a lot more philosophical questions and criticisms, advent of science, etc. But each disciplins has made a unique contribution: Vedanta has great knowledge of transcendental experience and and its relation to the world; phenomenology has a rigorous, almost mathematical account of all experiences plus the method of Reduction, QM has a mathematical formalism that supports both. Each discipline on itself is inadequate in the full exposition of truth, but their union can give a comprehensive account. It is in this sense that made a comparative study and as I said before it is not a matter of judging one system over another, since after you attain to a transcendental experience you cannot care less about systems and proofs. None of it is real after all.
But I am still reading Vedanta texts and everyday find more wealth in it, and as I go about my views naturally change. But the same hold for phenomenology; if you need a full understanding of how it compares to Vedanta and its methods you need to delve into the deep world of phenomenology, particularly Husserl’s. But if the goal is to judge one system better than the other, then it is a futile endeavor since it is not the system but the seeker that determines the truth of the system. If through it you attain to ultimate truth, then it has done the job well. And no system can address the need of all. For me Vedanta would not work for the attainment of my transcendental experience; I had to go through phenomenology; but deep down there is no difference; these are names and forms; Self is everywhere and it is not that Self prefers systems or seekers. Truth is universal and always beyond all systems and nations. Both phenomenology and Vedanta are true insofar as they point to one and the same truth; but they are both utterly false in that they are only names and forms in the world, not the Self.
You may have misunderstood something I said or I may have said it wrongly. Nowhere I said that Vedanta doesn’t use reason or logic; after all it is vedanta metaphysics that I advocate, and metaphysics is by definition a system of logic and intellectual work. But its basis is the Vedas. What came before Vedanta metaphysical system was experiences of sages or rishies. The metaphysical system came only later when philosophers tried to formulate the transcendental experiences of these rishis and sages. Philosophers used logic and reason to show the way toward that experience. In other words, there was first experience or revelation and then metaphysics. But phenomenology begins from pure logic and theory and shows that such an experience should be possible, and it should be possible in such and such steps. It began from logic and results in experience. It is the reverse process but both involve logic of course. And there is not doubt that the logic and mathematics of 20th century is much more developed than those of Sankara’s period. So if phenomenology is more rigorous it is very natural consequence; nevertheless, both are speaking about one and the same experience.
Thanks for typing lengthy replies. I am replying for all the above 3 comments.
1. Pure reasoning is Atman itself. It is beyond the “I”, intellect etc. It is both seeing and knowing only. The reasoning graduates itself to pure seeing when all phenomena is negated and that is why I call it pure. That is, Self knows itself by itself at the end of reasoning, but what has led to it is negation of the 3 states as not oneself. It is like when 10 people are there and when one of them counts, he counts only 9 not including himself. But when that mistake is realized, he knows that he is the 10th man. Up to the realization of the mistake it can be called reasoning. But he doesn’t need any further reasoning when he knows himself as the 10th man. The reasoning pushed him to know himself. It is like removing a thorn using another thorn. I am stressing this because Self is not an experience. It is the only reality and is already present and not newly acquired. Only the wrong ideas has covered it which needs to be removed through reasoning. Then the Self knows itself as itself. We may be saying the same thing, but there is a mismatch in usage of words. For me pure reasoning means that which shows the defect of the intellect and mind also.
2. The question was if Vedanta has a non-mystical way of realizing the Truth using only reasoning. That is what I tried to show. The intellect also is taken into account and therefore it is not merely intellectual but pure reasoning. In Hindu spirituality there are millions of ways to reach the Self. Through yoga, pranayama, kundalini etc etc.. They all work. And some are direct and some are indirect.
3. Regards revelation, some sages realize outside tradition like Buddha. Recently JK and Ramana realized their Self outside tradition. Ramana knew about Vedanta only after he knew himself as the Self! Even Adi Sankara was supposed to be like that. He later systematized seeing the deterioration of spirituality. So there are some who realize outside tradition and remain so, some who realize and accept tradition and some who realize through tradition! Spirituality has been the only business in India from time immemorial! So all possibilities has been tried out. But I am not identifying myself with any Vedanta or anything because this time I am born in this part of the world. God knows where I was in last life. And any identification only limits you. Of course, all these paths etc are as false as our individuality and only valid till we hold on to our individuality. From the Self everything is harmonized including conflicting views!
Reblogged this on mokshaclub.
I think our minds are in some sort of quantum entanglement! The moment I settle for a wise view you seem to take an (other)wise view and the moment you take a wise view I seem to take an (other)wise view 🙂 ! I guess the QE particles are also entangled at mind level while physicists are looking for answers at the physical level! We have to stop this particular thread somewhere leaving it to the readers to decide if it has given a glimpse of their own Self to themselves! 🙂
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lol. Our discussion on this matter went long, but I liked it since it is good for us and the readers. But we can stop this thread as we are sure there are a lot of other topics interesting to discuss. Especially that I read more of vedanta text and will have questions to ask you. For now I wll get involved with some coming exams while trying to see how space-time compares with Turiya 🙂
Thanks SRK, It is possible we use words that have different meaning. When you speak about reasoning, you mean logic I guess, and logic is the task of mind. It is possible to deduce the existence of Self through mind but it is not possible to become one with Self through reasoning. For instance, the knowledge of a man that he is the 10th man is a totally different kind of knowledge that the knowledge of Self. Knowledge through reasoning requires external data; the man to deduce that he is the 10th he must count and then use logic, etc. which requires him to consider ideas other than his own; but knowledge of Self is not a kind of knowledge that involves something outside itself, let alone reasoning in the sense of reasoning of the mind. Result of reasoning is deduction; but Self is discovered through intuition rather than deduction. But this, that reasoning is not the means of intuition of the Self, is well established fact of Advaita Vedanta metaphysics, especially as expounded by Sankara. Knowledge of Self is through experience. Where you say Self is not experience it is because you are referring to experience as you know it, which is natural experience, the experience in which there is subject and object. But there is another kind of experience, transcendental experience, in which there is not subject-object-knowledge division. It is the experience only for Self to know the Self. This transcendental experience is utterly other than natural experience to which you refer. Deductive reasoning like the one through which a man concludes he is the 10th, can only show there is a Self, etc. But still it is the individual himself that had to reason to grasp the Self. This reasoning doesn’t change the individual as such but provides him deductive knowledge about the existence of Self. But transcendental experience destroys the individual, and hence all the reasoning. This is how knowledge of Self is attained with absolute certainty. Let me give you an analogy that perfectly shows the difference between the two: Through reasoning the person who is counting manages to remove the error and realizes that he is the 10th person. He now knows in his mind that he is the 10th. But consider the other possibility: That this person could in someway have a view of everything from above, for instance had access to a camera that is watching everything from above. By looking at the camera he immediately sees that there are 10 people and he is one of them. In this case he knows the knowledge through SEEing without the need for reasoning. Knowledge of Self too is attained this way; and that is why it is called transcendental experience; it is very similar to seeing it all from above. This transcendental mode of experience is the way Self knows itself as Self. The reasoning is the way as man knows Self as Self. Still your identity with supreme Self is something you have to reason, and as a result you have access to it through reasoning while still experiencing yourself as individual. But in transcendental experience there is not individual. The Self actually is identical with Transcendental experience. It is not the subject or object of experience, for transcendental experience is other than experience we commonly know. The Self is the pure “transcendental experiencing.” This is frequently mentioned in all Upanishads and also Yoga Vasistha. The phrase mentioned in these text is “Self/Brahman/Atman is experiencing.” I am sure you will find many instances of this. Reasoning is only the indirect way of access to Self, it is the way of access of human to Self. But Self does’t need reasoning to know itself as Self; the self-knowledge of Self is through transcendental experience of itself.
Another good analogy that I always use is this: Reasoning toward Self is like a blind man trying to understand what color is through reasoning on his own senses. But the transcendental experience or direct intuition of Self is like seeing color in front of oneself; the color is immediately known as color with absolute self evidence. It won’t require any reasoning. Another fault of pure reasoning is that you may conclude that Self exists and that is the only thing that exists, but you can never know what it is like to actually Be the Self. You are still the individual thinking of Self instead of becoming Self itself. This like when a blind man tries to reason toward color, he may conclude that such a thing as color exists, but until he sees color we can never know exactly what it is like to see color; and once he gains sight and sees color he won’t need the reasoning anymore.
Intuition is the only way of direct access to Self; since Self is identical with “pure experiencing” and not with natural experience as you mentioned, one can directly intuit the Self through transcendental experience which is the experience without subject-object-knowledge division.
Another place where you said Vedanta is not merely intellectual but pure reasoning I would disagree with this from two angles: First is that reason is below intellect according to Vedanta, as reason is accorded to mind while intellect is the buddhi. The object of reason is sense data while the object of intellect is the mind itself. But here I am guessing you used the word “intellectual” with a different meaning perhaps. In the proper sense I would consider Vedanta as an intellectual system since reason requires external data for its functioning; it can work only on empirical data; but Vedanta works with intellectual intuition which is self evident. With pure reasoning it is impossible to prove the existence of Self for the following reason: Reason works only upon external data, the data that we provide; for instance in the case of the example of counting you gave, reason works when there are numbers of people to be counted, etc. Without data reason doesn’t do anything. But if you use data for reason and then try to prove the non-existence of the world and existence of Self only, then you have proved the non-existence of the very data that you used for reason to prove the Self, hence you only disprove your conclusion. These are all frequently discussed in Vedanta texts, particularly of the inadequacy of pure reason alone to grasp the Self. Self is infinite; it can only be fully grasped (which means seen) by an infinite faculty; the only infinite thing is Self itself. Thus, the proper and full grasp of Self is only the transcendental experience of Self by Self. Reason which is finite and contingent may deduce things about the Self but it cannot know Self directly. These things are not what I personally think about the Self but things I learnt in Upanishads and some other Vedanta texts. That pure reasoning is in principle inadequate for the direct knowledge of Self is a matter of established fact in all orthodox texts of Vedanta. Seeing provides the seeker with much more evidence and certainty than reasoning alone, that is why Sankara urges that intellectual intuition is superior to rational inference. Rational inference can only produce facts; but intellectual intuition gives truth. That pure reason can never grasp truth is because of the contingent character of mind; this was the topic of my “morphology of truth” in which I argued that truth cannot be known through propositional logic which belongs to reasoning. The major limits of pure reason is discussed in detail in Emmanuel Kant’s “Critique of Pure Reason.” Reason being subject to space and time cannot grasp something that lies outside space and time, namely the Self. To go outside space and time, to transcend space-time, is the only condition for direct knowledge of Self, hence the transcendental experience which is also mentioned in Kant but not in the sense used in phenomenology. What is known about Self through reason is indirect and worldly; it is the shadow of the absolute and the infinite on the human mind; it is still the human grasp of Self which is never identical with Self in itself.
The point of saying these is that if you have been convinced of Self through pure reasoning, then know that it is not it yet; there is something more; it is possible to actually SEE and experience Self directly without any mind or reasoning or worldly eyes. That pure seeing is the end while pure reasoning is the beginning. Self is never known by human; it is only thought. It is known only by Self itself which is a pure seeing of itself after it transcends world and humanity.
One very evident sign is that those who are absolutely convinced about Self through pure reasoning are still reading about the Self, thinking about it, reflecting and debating and meditating about it; the urge to know the Self is still in them and keeps them intellectually active; this is a sign that the Self is not yet directly known through pure seeing. If knowledge of Self through pure reasoning would be direct, then the person would be done searching and thinking about the Self or looking for it everywhere, etc. The thirst to know it is still existent until direct vision which is the ultimate proof of it after which the seeker lets go of search and becomes in peace and silence regarding spiritual or philosophical matters. But again in all these I said I am just saying what I have read in Vedanta texts which make sense personally. The good thing about these kinds of debates is that it encourages the seekers to go further and not get complacent and satisfied to a mere intellectual knowledge known through pure reasoning; it helps them know that what they know through pure reasoning is not the Self in itself or completely, so this may push them to go further and taste a direct experience that calms them forever.
Thanks Tomaj. I will give a better example. Assume there is a man who assumes he is blind and he has never opened his eyes. Someone else comes and tells him that he is not blind. If he can open his eyes, it will be totally different. Reasoning is up to the point where he believes he can open his eyes and also repeatedly tries to open his eyes. The lids are heavy due to disuse. And then suddenly he could open his eyes little bit. That is the 4th dimension of direct seeing. Again it closes. But now he has confidence and hope. So this alternates for sometime till he fully opens his eyes and thereafter doesn’t need any more reasoning. Now he is fully into his true dimension.
You need to recognize the witness Self or sakshi chaitanya , as it is called in Vedanta, which is behind the human being as disinterested onlooker. Witness Self is to human consciousness as absolute Self is to cosmic consciousness. In our approach, one first knows oneself as witness Self which for all practical purposes is liberation as it is the very seer of intellect, mind and senses and yet unassociated with them. And then knowing that the witness Self is the absolute Self is the next step. I think this is where there is conflict between us.
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Reading the last comment I agree with all of it and don’t disagree with any of it. I think we both agree that seeing is beyond reasoning. Unless you mean by reasoning something very different. The Onlooker is precisely that which sees the transcendental experience of Self. Disinterested onlooker is the central theme of transcendental phenomenology since Reduction exposes this onlooker. The disinterested onlooker of phenomenology is the same as the witness consciousness of Vedanta. But this onlooker is beyond reasoning. It only sees, and it is in this seeing that Self is known. I guess there is no disagreement between us insofar as it is understood that pure reasoning cannot lead to direct knowledge of Self. My own objection was only to this ability you attributed to pure reasoning. This objection too is really something within Vedanta and not mine. It is a well established fact mind cannot directly know Self, for mind is the very obstacle. Reasoning is a function of mind; thus reasoning can’t directly experience Self. Self can only be seen, though not the seeing people know of. This would be the only point of difference since it seemed to me that unlike Vedanta position you consider pure reasoning to be the means of direct knowledge of Self. I guess I misunderstood you.
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Thanks. There is no doubt I am placing seeing beyond any reasoning because it is through the light of Self that reasoning or intellect itself functions. If you see, in my blog also I would have mentioned “direct observation” many times. “Seeing” is also called “Aparoksha” in Vedanta which means direct and immediate knowing.
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This language of Self is inevitable a little complicated since we are talking about something essentially inexpressible. This is the source of all confusion; there is one Self only and we are both talking that same Self, or more precisely, we are really one and the same thing 🙂 .
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Thanks. The reason for using the word reasoning 🙂 is to contrast it with any yoga practice. When you said phenomenology uses logic, I wanted to say that Vedanta also is a method of reasoning, observation and detachment which itself suffices to realize one’s Self and which results in “direct seeing” after which all the tools like reasoning become useless. But within phenomenon they serve their purpose as usual.
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That is why I love Vedanta. Esoterists of all other religions too draw from Advaita Vedanta metaphysics. The method of Vedanta in approaching truth is phenomenology. One can even say that philosophers like Sankara are in fact phenomenologists. and Advaita Vedanta metaphysics is none other than a phenomenology of consciousness if we remove it from its religious context. Professor Bina Gupta has written a lot on Vedanta and its phenomenolgical methods. The parallels are fascinating.
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salutation to the wisdom shared in the post.
i copy paste few lines that took place between Adi Sankara and Kumarila Bhatta.
“You will find a home at whose gates there are a number of caged parrots discussing abstract topics like — ‘Do the Vedas have self-validity or do they depend on some external authority for their validity? Are karmas capable of yielding their fruits directly, or do they require the intervention of God to do so? Is the world eternal, or is it a mere appearance?’ Where you find the caged parrots discussing such abstruse philosophical problems, you will know that you have reached Maṇḍenana’s place.”
Welcome to Mandenana’s place 🙂
An interesting discussion that seems at times to be reminiscent of the old medieval argument about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. I am trying to relate the same to a different audience in a very different manner. For me, simplicity is the key. Tomaj uses Self as an antonym for God. I use the infinite for the same. I simply point out that the infinite has to exist in order for the finite to exist because the finite is within the infinite no matter how it is described. Further, I postulate that the infinite dwells in another dimension of zero. I also postulate and suggest that natural laws, math and geometry comes before existence because actuality follows these forms and this means they exist in that zero dimension as well. Infinity, being eternal and unending, can hold every eventuality, every potentiality and all experience. One article I have online helps explain this, but more are forthcoming.
Reblogged this on HELIOS.