TAT TVAM ASI — You Are That

There is an innate homogeneity in creation. A fetus is born from the combination of sperm and egg of the parents, both of these are a modification of food that came from plants or animals in nature. The same human body is sustained with food and finally dissolves back to food. Food is a natural product of the synthesis of the five fundamental elements (bhutas). In the scheme of Sankhyan evolution, the five elements cannot exist in a pure form independent of one another; rather they combine according to a certain scheme of proportion. In Sanskrit the process of quintuplication is called panchikarana.

Prithvi (Earth) is also called Dhra, Dharti, Dhrithri, meaning that which holds everything. This earth aspect or Prithvi-tattva is the end limit of gross manifestation. The earth in principle stands for everything gross, concrete and objective. It is the ontological, existential base of life. The element preceding earth is water, water is the symbol of vitality and all forms of emotion, ranging from aesthetic feeling to the highest forms of mystical exaltation. The Jala-tattva, is the element (bhuta) which exists as the necessary medium to generate the first form of life, Indian mythology visualizes the first occurrence of life in water. They even name God as Narayana, Naram meaning water and ayana meaning dwelling. Narayana thus means the one who dwells in water. Polarity, cohesion and adhesion are the essential properties of water both physical and metaphysical. Thus, the ability in molecules to combine and hold atoms of different chemical elements is thus obtained from this jala-tattva, the ontological aspect of this tattva or principle is attributed to God (Narayana).

Next comes, Agni, which is easily associated with thermodynamics and luminosity. Jeremy England, an assistant professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has derived a mathematical formula that he believes explains that when a group of atoms is driven by an external source of energy (like the sun or chemical fuel) and surrounded by a heat bath (like the ocean or atmosphere), it will often gradually restructure itself in order to dissipate increasingly more energy. This could mean that under certain conditions, matter inexorably acquires the key physical attribute associated with life.

“You start with a random clump of atoms, and if you shine light on it for long enough, it should not be so surprising that you get a plant,” England said.

The first in the series of bhutas (elements) is akasha, it has no equivalent term in English. Aspects of a number of terms such as sky, ether, space, time and ground are to be put together to form an integrated concept which stands for akasha. The definition of akasha in the Sankhya Darsana is avakashadatr, that which makes it possible for an object to exist. The space occupied by an object is, as it were, donated by akasha. We may say the entirety of space is one aspect of akasha. In the Brhadaranyaka Upanishad, Yajnavalkya teaches Gargi that the warp and the woof of the universe is akasha, and the structure of the Absolute is in akasha. It is to be known as both spiritual and non-spiritual. Its quality is vibration. As vibration indicates direction of movement, kinetic frequencies, and dynamics, the sequential quality of akasha produces time. Thus, akasha as a manifested reality becomes the time-space continuum. It is also to be conceived of as a unified field in which everything functions according to the assigned nature of each element.

In fact, akasha becomes the first step towards physical creation. As sound, which in its graded operation controls the entire field of noetics and semiotics of the world of conception and expression, akasha becomes the ground of mental, psychic and spiritual manifestations, which find their natural home in the world of elements.

In the natural process of creation, the next property has to necessarily be touch, contact, cohesion, and reaction. All these characterize the second element, air, which is more pronouncedly materialistic. Vayu or air is, in one sense, akasha a bit more horizontalized. The Sanskrit word Vayu though translated as air, should not be looked upon as a gas. It is actually the great womb of fusion and combustion which generates all the physical elements, gaseous, liquid, and solid. According to the Nyaya and Vaisesika schools of Indian philosophy, the basic material of the physical universe is paramaanu. Parama means absolute and anu means a monad. It has no dimensions except a mathematical location. Only by the coming together or contact and structural cohesion of several paramaanus is one anu or atom generated. Vayu is the field for generation of anus or atoms. Hence, it is misleading to identify it with air, which is only a phenomenon of the atmosphere. The other property of vayu symbolizes the realisation of the possible on the ground of the actual. Therefore, the higher functioning of the mind in spiritual visions, psychic experiences, intuitions and revelations are all considered aspects of the manifestation of vayu.

When the akasha and vayu horizontalize still further, frictions, combustions, and fissures multiply a billion-fold and the unified field of akasha becomes filled with innumerable patterns of radiation in the form of light and heat. While on the existential level agni becomes identified with fire, in the world of consciousness it is seen as the lower mind and its several properties. Between mind and matter the role of agni can be observed in all positive and active emergence, and in all the creative functioning of biological, biochemical, psychophysical and psychochemical processes. Its major role, however, is as a complement to sound, and as that factor which produces the boundless network of visual forms on which rest all perceptual experiences.

The empirical world can be seen dichotomously as a combination of name and form. That is why the eminent physicist Erwin Schrodinger defined the world as a construct of percepts and concepts. These elements akasha, vaayu and agni, so very fundamental to life, constitute the first three steps in creation. The gross, material body of a concrete manifestation comes from the other two elements, water and earth, as shown earlier.

The question now arises about the cause of these elements which constitute the body-mind complex. The physicist Pascual Jordan, who worked with quantum guru Niels Bohr in Copenhagen in the 1920s, put it like this: “observations not only disturb what has to be measured, they produce it… We compel [a quantum particle] to assume a definite position.” In other words, Jordan said, “we ourselves produce the results of measurements.” If that is so, objective reality seems to go out of the window. And it gets even stranger.

If nature seems to be changing its behaviour depending on whether we “look” or not, we could try to trick it into showing its hand. To do so, we could measure which path a particle took through the double slits, but only after it has passed through them. By then, it ought to have “decided” whether to take one path or both. An experiment for doing this was proposed in the 1970s by the American physicist John Wheeler, and this “delayed choice” experiment was performed in the following decade. It uses clever techniques to make measurements on the paths of quantum particles (generally, particles of light, called photons) after they should have chosen whether to take one path or a superposition of two.

It turns out that, just as Bohr confidently predicted, it makes no difference whether we delay the measurement or not. As long as we measure the photon’s path before its arrival at a detector is finally registered, we lose all interference.

It is as if nature “knows” not just if we are looking, but if we are planning to look.

Whenever, in these experiments, we discover the path of a quantum particle, its cloud of possible routes “collapses” into a single well-defined state. What’s more, the delayed-choice experiment implies that the sheer act of noticing, rather than any physical disturbance caused by measuring, can cause the collapse. But does this mean that true collapse has only happened when the result of a measurement impinges on our consciousness?

That possibility was admitted in the 1930s by the Hungarian physicist Eugene Wigner. “It follows that the quantum description of objects is influenced by impressions entering my consciousness,” he wrote. “Solipsism may be logically consistent with present quantum mechanics.”

In Vedantic view, the cause of creation is Brahman — the Absolute Reality. The word Brahman is derived from the root Brh which means “growth” and combined with the term man which means “without limitation”. It is indicated by the Upanishads as subtler than subtlest and simultaneously greater than the greatest. Its creative force is called Shakti, it is the power inherent in Brahman. Just like pungent flavour is inherent in a chilly. This force creates a disturbance in the Universal Mind (Brahma or Hiranyagarbha) which begins the process of creation.

Individuality, or personality, according to Vedanta, does not consist in being anything like a simple, undecomposible, spiritual entity, called soul in the West and cit by Ramanuja in India. It consists, on the other hand, in being a manas, a mind, which means a peculiar mode of the Ultimate Reality determined by a peculiar movement, tendency, desire, or will to imagine. The form is in perpetual change, for it is determined by ever changing activity. Activity and personality are identical in Vedanta. They are two names for the same tendency. Vedanta says that our personality being an ever-flowing stream of thought, and that it is in perpetual flux. What modern physicists think of the atom in relation to the ether, Vedantins thinks of the mind with regard to the Absolute Reality, which they for want of a better expression calls Consciousness, This idea presented quite recently by some physicists was so clear in the vedantins mind that they calls the mind a cid-anu, a Consciousness-atom.

This manas or mind derives its ability to move, desire and will to imagine from the creative aspect of the Absolute Brahman, Shakti as we saw earlier. In fact, mind is Brahman and therefore the individuality (Jiva) is identical with Brahman — the Absolute. Ashtavakra — A Vedantic Seer, says in this regard:

Tata cinmatra-rupo si na te bhinna-midam jagat

O son! You are pure intelligence itself, This universe is nothing different from you.

This makes way for the great dictum of Vedanta — Tatvamasi — You Are That.

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