A few comments in reply to Facebook post on Vedanta, Modern Physics etc. December 10, 2012Posted by Akash in Experiments with God.
Tags: modern science, science, Truth, vedanta
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Biswajit (Mitra) da commented on Facebook, “… system নিজের নিয়মে আমাদের হজম করায়, বা করায় না, আমার এই চিন্তাগুলো তোমার মাথার ঠিক কোথায় রাখবে, ঠিক করে, বা রাখেই না gibberish মনে করে । একই সঙ্গে লক্ষ লক্ষ Virus, bacteriaকে আটকায় বা ঢুকতে দেয়, সবই অজান্তে । অতএব system Is autonomic । আমরা ভাবি, আমরা বুঝি সব কাজ করি, আসলে আমাদের system-এর ১% কাজ-ও আমরা করি না, মানে বুঝে করি না” Further to this he noted that to start studying this subjects, “Swami Jitatmananda has a nice book titled ‘Modern Physics and Vedanta’. One can try that.”
On doubting the fact that “system is autonomic” (since I believe that the same can be influenced) and on expressing my revulsion towards such books (including this book – which Monk Manikam presented me in Tullamarine Buddha Monastery in Melbourne in 2007) due to their blutant effort of extrapolating vedantic scriptures to make them look/read alike with some of the propositions of modern physics, Biswajit da commented,
“What unsupported claims. Akash? How much do you know about Vedanta? I know you have some idea about Physics.” and “জ্ঞান আত্মস্থ না হলে বদহজম হয়, যেমন বই লেখার ইচ্ছে, হা হা । অন্যের জ্ঞান থেকে যায় ।”
In response to these comments I decided to put my thoughts here in no particular order –
As much as I hate to waste my time writing these in Facebook, I guess, I don’t have other choice as a consequence of profaning thou “holy” post by blasphemous “nose” of mine! But should I dare to disagree, as far as I know you, I trust you will forgive my frivolous audacity as my stupidity.
“Where is your applause Socrates when everybody is clapping?”, Thrasymachus asked Socrates in his death trial.And Socrates replied,
They applause as they don’t understand.
And that is the reason of my reluctancy behind striking up a conversation with important, confident and knowledgable men everywhere (including in Facebook); as arguing directly (with logic) against their false beliefs would almost always lead to an impasse in which each participant would continue asserting his convictions instead of any critical self-examination. And what’s more, illogical assertions till date gather more applause.
Much to my dismay, when I came back home today I realized I have not brought the book “Modern Physics and Vedanta” back here, in Singapore, where I currently live. Indeed, I brought many of my favorite books from my India home to Singapore and the list includes books such as “Pather Panchali” and Penrose’s “The Road to Reality”. Unfortunately, “Modern Physics and Vedanta” is not with me presently. Hence I would not be able to give any accurate reference to some of the matters I bring up below.
Owing to my memory, I begin by describing the first and foremost thing that I did not like about this book. The book makes an blutant assumption that modern science is drifting towards “intuitionism” and by the virtue of being so, it is now more closure to Vedanta. Many a pages are wasted in the book in order to prove this fact and to try to make readers exclaim with joy that “vedanta” is so superior that modern science has no other means now but to decipher vedantic scriptlets to progress any further. And the way they prove the intuitionism of modern science is, by bringing up topics of Wheeler’s many world interpretation of quantum mechanics and Bell’s inequality.
As a matter of fact, many world interpretation – in spite of it’s “maya” induced name – describes something very simple. To put poetically, it just says,
your life is the sum of the choices that you have made.
You are not deprived of your rights to make a choice. But should you make a choice, you must consider the fact that such choice may alter the course of the world (even observer is also participator – in the same way described in Heisenberg’s thought experiment).
But that’s not all!!! For, next comes the point that is probably the most abused concept by these proclaimed vedanta pundits. The point is of uncertainties. The point is, the natural course of nature is not only the summations of choices, it is in fact, subjected to chances, to eventualities.
And now let the vedantic proponents begin! They would say,
We thought, science deals with materialistic and empirical evidences??? Then how come you talk about chances??
Indeed, science deals with empirical evidences. And that’s why, unlike Vedanta, ONLY science can give you a method of measuring the “chances” by means of quantum formulations. Welcome to quantum mechanics. This means, you are still free to make choices – but remember, effects of your choices are subjects of precisely defined limits of quantum mechanical anomaly. As “Architect” puts it unmistakably in the movie Matrix where he tells Neo,
Your life is the sum of a remainder of an unbalanced equation inherent to the programming of the matrix. You are the eventuality of an anomaly, which despite my sincerest efforts I have been unable to eliminate from what is otherwise a harmony of mathematical precision.
The nature is governed by “Principle of Least Action“. There is indeed no secret remained to it and there is no need to philosophize on this anymore. It is being observed for centuries and it currently stands as one of the most fundamental physical laws behind classical mechanics (Lagrangian), mathematics, theory of relativity, quantum mechanics and quantum field theory. From the principle of least action, it is actually plain to see that – nature is not autonomic. It is merely the least action (or lowest energy) configuration of matters and forces at that moment, given the numerous choices that have been made before. It’s easy to influence the system by making a different choice as nature is just the summation of “suitable” states of everything inside it.
If there is anything autonomic, that is the laws governing the forces of nature (“purush”?) which is only part of nature, not identical to nature. AND this physics is certainly not same with “Advaita Vedanta”. So stop stretching similarities. The autonomous behavior of Universe (as we observe it) is not a property of non-duality. It is a property of the fundamental laws like – irreversibility of time and principles of least action – both of which are well established mathematical phenomena.
Yet some people are still creating storms over coffee on the mystic properties of nature. Hello!! I have a news for you. Go and understand Lagrangian formulation of classical mechanics from a real text book and stop reading and philosophizing from metaphysics books. The only part you won’t get here is that uncertainty bit, for which you need to study quantum mechanics. (It’s weird, but it’s not difficult – just read it from a proper text book instead of popular science books).
And if you don’t want to read some mathematical texts, then here is my simple digest for you. Just read it, it would save you many hours of reading complex books. I call it, the theory of two bacteria. And it goes like this,
Two bacteria were present in a glass of pure water. They did not have any food and they would naturally die if they don’t get an organic substance to eat up. Luckily some pollens fell into that water. But because of the brownian motion, these pollens started moving completely arbitrarily in the glass. The first bacteria saw that and thought, “there is no point in trying to swim towards this pollen as it would move away before I reach to it”. So he kept laying lazily in the bottom of the glass. But the other bacteria targeted one pollen and tried swimming to it frenziedly. Sadly everytime it tried to reach towards one, it went away due to random brownian motion.
This glass is our world. Yes, it is indeed governed by chance. Now let’s see what are the possible eventualities in this glass.
- It may happen that, in spite of trying, second bacteria does not get food and dies. Whereas due to random motion, one pollen comes straight in front of the first lazy bacteria’s mouth and he eats it, survives and thanks God. (So hard-work may not yield success. In spite of trial you may fail).
- It may so happen the hard working bacteria indeed get the food and survives whereas the other dies. You proclaim, “it survived because of it’s hard-work”.
- It may so happen that both of them survive or both of them die.
But the question is, which one among these events has the highest possibility to occur? It’s plain to see that the hardworking bacteria has actually more chance to survive since because of its swimming, it is actually encompassing more volume of the glass thereby increasing its possibility to encounter one of the pollens.
The bottom line is – nothing is guaranteed, but keep trying since that can increase the chances! That’s the nature – full of possibilities – but governed by mathematical precisions discovered in science. A five days old child may die out of car accident. Whose fault is it? No one’s. Sins and virtues of man all are irrelevant. You can try for something but success is not guaranteed, trial will only increase the possibility. Admittedly, this is the meaning of “Karmanye Vadhikaraste Ma Phaleshu Kadachana”.
The problem with many of the texts claiming similarities with modern physics and vedanta is, the futile effort to characterize the natural eventuality under the mythical disguise of “maya”. Giving one more example from the “Modern Physics and Vedanta” book – it tried depicting the presence of mass less particles as the carrier of universal energy as “Maya” and it boasts of the Sanskrit sloka – “Nasato Bidyate bhavo/ Na bhabo bidyate satoh”. But to me, this sloka symbolizes principles of mass – energy conservation more, rather than mass less particles only. These are the discrepancies that trouble me when I read these books. I would, therefore, prefer studying science than studying polymorphic attributions of vedantic scripts.
Next point of discussion will naturally gravitate towards vedantic non-duality and its comparison to big bang theory of universe. And it is a huge topic (which is why I have purposefully not touched it yet). I would prefer to save it for my next post in the future. For now I can only say there are more discrepancies than similarities between these two theories, for example, the whole point of “purush” and “prakriti” in spite of their singularity, can not be fundamentally supported by modern physics (and modern physics actually say that jitters are possible in absolute vacuum – read Casimir effect – that can not be supported in Vedic definition of “sunyo”)
I guess I have many other points to discuss but due to the scarcity of time (I have to go to office tomorrow you know) I could not really put everything in a more logical order, but I guess I would do that sometime in future if somebody instigates me – but for now I want to end with one last point.
This is to answer Biswajit da’s question – “How much do you know about Vedanta?” – the only thing I know that (Advaita) Vedanta says is – “Self (Atma) and whole (Brahman) are identical”. Do let me know if you know something else. I am asking as I am ignorant (double irony intended!).