Consciousness: The scientific and yogic view-complementary not adversarial


Why do you insist the universe is not a conscious intelligence, when it gives birth to conscious intelligences?

 Cicero, c. 44 BCE

The author is a Cardiac Electrophysiologist and a Professor of Cardiology and Public health, based in Memphis, Tennessee, USA. He is the Founder Chairman of American Academy for Yoga & Meditation.

Every soul that has taken a human form for its existence on earth has questioned the concept of consciousness. Why are we conscious? Is the snake or a dog as conscious as we are? What about rocks? Is a virus-like COVID-19 that behaves to be living when introduced to a host like a human but can be stored for a millennium like a non-living-is it conscious? Like ordinary men have thought and re-thought about god, the origin of their existence, and other wonderous but ill-defined things that have been happening to their body, mind, and soul. Science has been in search of these answers for over centuries. But it is the yogis who have been able to understand at least a bit of the ultimate truth. 

A famous book describes how Brahma had a dream and created the world. It takes a yogic lifestyle and understanding to comprehend this thought that he has put forward. Going deep into the concept of consciousness, we understand that we are all caught up in virtual reality, or Maya as it is called. Our soul, believed to be encased in our physical body, needs a way to exist on earth. The human brain is thus tuned to focus on just the human consciousness-as required for human existence. To understand the universal consciousness, we need a more powerful brain derived from years of yogic practice. Scientific studies using Magnetic Resonance Imaging, PET scans have clearly shown many radical changes in meditating brain, including better networking amongst brain sites, increase in neuronal mass or cortical brain, and possibly more functional effectiveness. It is also apparent that the longer the practice is more tuned, our brain becomes more efficient. It is indeed strange that today’s physics and powerful yogi share similar sentiments about the Universe. Swami Vivekananda has been quoted to say, “It is our own mental attitude which makes the world what it is for us. Our thought makes things beautiful; our thoughts make things ugly. The whole world is in our own minds. Learn to see things in the proper light.” One of the foremost twentieth-century theoretical physicists, John Wheeler, said almost similarly, “No phenomenon is a real phenomenon until it is an observed phenomenon.” Such concepts are new and radical to physics but not Vedanta Philosophy; Buddhist Scholar Ashwagosha, the 7th-century master, says that there is no existence; we create existence!

Yoga is the only known process that provides us with a way to understand the truth. Meditation can help in ‘Chitta Vrittha Nirodha’. It can cleanse our minds of unwanted thoughts and create a super brain needed to understand any phenomenon outside our mundane living existence. Our ancient sages are scientists who, by meditation, understood the nature of the Universe just as modern scientists working in their laboratories do. All the discoveries, however, are not through laboratory reductionist work. Einstein’s concepts were proved decades after he proposed them. Tesla had a dream that spoke about alternate currents. Thus, many of the most significant discoveries were made inside the human brain. As Julius Robert Oppenheimer said, “The general notion about human understanding. Which is illustrated by discoveries in atomic physics… is not in nature wholly unheard of, or new. .(they have) in Buddhist and Hindu thought a more considerable and a central place. What we shall find is an exemplification, an encouragement, and a refinement of the old wisdom.”

Our yogis have always talked about ‘Advaita’ and the oneness of this whole existence. Still, it took centuries for modern science to conduct experiments like Einstein, Podolsky and Rosen that proved Einstein wrong! The Universe is one connected whole-there is a connection between paired subatomic particles, and they can communicate instantaneously even if they are on the two ends of the Universe. While modern physics and cosmology look more metaphysical today than ever before, we still have reductionism among scientists. They are in denial and are not ready to believe that the entity (this Universe) that has created conscious intelligence like us is, not consciously intelligent. 

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Disclaimer

Views expressed above are the author’s own.



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