Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Realize Bacteria, Not Brahman

Brahman is an abstract entity that is supposed to be the ultimate reality whereas the world that we see is just an illusion, maya. Of course today we know enough about the brain to explain the states of brain which result in dissolution of the self and those states were interpreted to mean Brahman. Just like a junkie would rave on about his high, the people who experience the oneness also rave on about it. But the sad difference is that whereas the junkie realizes that his high is brought on by consuming certain classes of chemical compounds, the Vedic person is ignorant of neuroscience and blindly insists that realizing Brahman should be the goal of life for everyone.

The human brain has a great capacity to feel awe and wonder. There are many ways to tap into that capacity. The Vedas are one crude way of doing it as they only go after a small subset of experiences based on the primitive understanding of nature of that time. Limiting oneself to the knowledge of the Vedas is being like the proverbial frog in the well. Science has taught us so much about nature that one can pick any branch of science and find immense beauty in it.

One such source of beauty are bacteria, the closest a living thing can get to being called as omnipresent. Instead of wasting time on trying to realize a fictional entity, it is far better to realize bacteria which profoundly impact human life in ways that the people who concocted Brahman could never even have imagined. I can’t do complete justice in showing how awe inducing bacteria are. So I’m going to link to a few articles which do just that:

22 comments:

Srinivasalu said...

Brahmam is not only a state of mind. It is a state of being of the universe or multiverse. Person who has realized Himself (since he is part of Brahmam itself) is able to relate with everything including the universe its objects and force and laws behind it .

Realization is not a state of ecstasy to be compared to a high. Getting a high might have been a comparison to make common man understand the state of bliss.

Lije said...

@Srinivasalu

I think you need to read this:

http://skepticblog.org/2011/02/21/body-snatchers-phantom-limbs-and-alien-hands/

That Brahman is a state of mind is obvious to people who actually know something about how nature works. But I guess you wouldn't understand it because people like you have extreme difficulty in understanding the relationship between personal experience and reality. For example, by using the standards you use to say what is real and what is not, it is trivial to show that Harry Potter is real.

Vignesh said...

Hi Mr.Lije,
Brahman is not the state of mind or any state to discuss at all in the first place. It is the very essence of existence. Several states of consciousness can be experienced through external means or by practicing internal mind control methods. But none of these is implied by the term Brahman (or sunya as budhhists might say it). The very existence is Brahman. The oly subject of everything that can be perceived.

Lije said...

Brahman is not the state of mind or any state to discuss at all in the first place. It is the very essence of existence.

Yeah right. Let's not discuss it. Let's not understand the human brain, its various failure modes or its capacity to hallucinate. Let's just assume what somebody wrote in a deranged state of mind is absolutely true. And there can't just be any question of doubt. When you are talking about religion, certainty is certain. That is the very nature of blind faith. Talk about arrogance.

The very existence is Brahman. The oly subject of everything that can be perceived.

Oh really? Brahman is existence. Existence is Brahman. Reality is Brahman. Brahman is reality. Everything is Brahman. Brahman is everything. Are there any more tautologies that you would like to add? Replace Brahman with the Invisible Pink Unicorn and the meaning of your statement stays the same. You are precisely as ignorant as before about existence after you come to the conclusion that you have realized Brahman.

What Brahman really is, is escapism. Reality is so complex that it took so many years for us to understand it. Evolution didn't present itself to people who were chasing after reifications. It presented itself to people who acknowledged their ignorance and used the right means to reduce that ignorance. One can either work really hard to understand complexity or blindly believe that the world around us is maya, then just sit around for hours emptying and numbing their brain so as to induce the loss of "I" and then pretend that they know something about existence as their new illusion confirms to their earlier delusion that reality is an illusion.

S said...

We should not try to explain macro experience with micro and vice versa. Can any common man without any instrument except his own thought and consciousness find the Truth ? Truth has to be found by each and every one of us. Even if you understand bacteria, what is it in you that finally gives certainity to anything ? That is Brahman. Where does happiness come from ? Brahman is happiness. Thought is limited however diverse it is. That which is witness of thought it Brahman.

Lije said...

@S,

Any more tautologies left to throw at me?

S said...

Sir, The intelligence you are seeing in the bacteria is your own intelligence. Why look for it outside ? Know yourself as the pure intelligence and you will have sufficient time to know the various forms of intelligence if needed. Knowing other things without knowing yourself is putting the cart before the horse. Even analyzing your brain objectively is not knowing yourself. Get hold of the birthplace of thought and stay there.

Lije said...

@S

Where did you get the idea that I was looking for a human like intelligence in bacteria?

And no matter how many metaphors you use, you are still stuck in fantasy land. Here's a hint: reality doesn't really care about intelligence. If you get the hint and disagree, good. If you don't get it, also good. Either way you aren't going to convince me to accept that fantasy is "The Truth".

S said...

The universe is exactly like the dream universe. Dream is from individual mind whereas this waking universe is from the common mind. The ideas in the mind are projected as 5 dimensional experience and the experience is absorbed back as ideas into the mind. Matter is only an idea. In fact we never experience anything other than idea. Humans have to forego the idea of individual and reach the common mind to feel the Truth. Truth is not in details but facts are. Even billions of facts will not quench the human beings. They have to reach the common mind and feel themselves one with it. The wave has to know it is water and therefore the ocean. Otherwise it will feel limited and unsatisfied forever in the middle of ocean.

Lije said...

If fantasy writing is your thing, I too can play that game.

S said...

Perhaps you like to devolve to bacteria again to get a better understanding !

Lije said...

Unfortunately bacteria cannot write fantasy literature. So I would like to be myself.

But I get what you mean and you are again indulging in fantasy based on your religious worldview built on ignorance and arrogance. Evolution has no direction and bacteria are just as evolved as we are to survive in this world. There is no question of "devolving".

That said I wouldn't mind being a bacterium. Unlike you, I do realize the unity of life. So I wouldn't consider it a loss in any sense to be a bacterium.

S said...

If you realize unity of life, then please accept our fantasy also as part of it. The Truth about people is they love fantasy more than Truth. The bacteria may be more realistic and does not engage in fantasy ! But may be now we are human beings because we dont want to be bacterium in this life and you have realized unity of life because you are a human. So let bacteria have its own life, let us have ours and reach our full potential!

S said...

Self-realization is better than cellf-realization :)

Anonymous said...

What cognitive science has found out is that our brain constructs our reality. This itself proves that the world and we ourselves (in form of our body and mind) are constructed perceptions. This exactly is the same what Vedanta tell us. World is an illusion. Shankaracharya has precisely told how this illusion gets created. It's through the process of avaran (filtering/veiling) and vikshep (distortion). And science today has proven this. Our senses first filter out information coming from outside and our brain area (visual cortex, auditory cortex etc) further process the filtered information to create an artificial (distorted) projection out of it. This filtered and distorted thing is what we perceive as world. If we disable the mechanisms for this avarana and vikshepa process then the true reality (which is unconditioned and attributeless) is perceived. It is as simple as that. So basically science is converging towards spirituality.. It is on its way to prove the same things which spirituality told us centuries ago.

The same thing get confirmed in quantum mechanics also. Quantum nonlocality shows that subject object dichotomy is an illusion. Everything is one but perceived as different. Here is a beautiful interview about this - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s42mrdhKwRA

Lije said...

True, our brain constructs reality for us. But reality itself exists independently of it and no amount of spirituality would get you any good model of that reality. Conflating spirituality with what science has discovered is intellectual dishonesty at its best.

Science isn't proving the "same" things. It's showing how much nonsense is actually there in spirituality. The human brain by itself cannot get to "true" reality. You can delude yourself that you can, but no amount of spirituality will get you this.

Also, quantum quackery [1, 2] doesn't impress me.

Anonymous said...

"reality itself exists independently of it"
Yes and that reality is referred as Brahman in spiritual context.

"no amount of spirituality would get you any good model of that reality"
Probably you think that spirituality is something different than science. It's not. Spirituality has exactly the same goal that science has... that is to know the ultimate reality. Spirituality is also as much rational as science is. And its techniques of inquiry are as meticulous as of science. Many people in today's world do not know this because they never care to study spirituality in-depth. The false perception that spirituality means something "mystical" or "superstitious" has propagated so much that nobody wants to understand spiritual practices and rationality behind them. One can appreciate spirituality only when he will study it thoroughly with proper understanding. Just outrightly rejecting it without studying is not skepticism, it's self deception.

Agreed that your views are rational. But at the same time if you think that science is 'the best' and 'the only' way to understand reality then you are at bigger disadvantage. Because base of science is very fragile. There are many hard assumptions accepted blindly. And quite surprisingly nobody questions them ! :) However the same people leave no chance of blaming other ways of inquiry as "blind faith". If these ways of inquiry are stamped "blind faith" and science is not, then I would say that it's the biggest and most unfortunate hypocrisy.

Lije said...

Yes and that reality is referred as Brahman in spiritual context.

Sure, if you mean you can consistently reproduce some states of the mind and call that Brahman, I have no issues. It is exactly the same as taking a mind altering drug. You can meticulously measure the doses based on individual tolerances and people will agree that they have the same hallucinatory experiences. So that is Brahman too. As long as you start with the premise that you are chasing after some states of the mind, it is rational.

Probably you think that spirituality is something different than science. It's not. Spirituality has exactly the same goal that science has... that is to know the ultimate reality.

You cannot use spirituality as a guide to understand reality for the very simple reason that you cannot trust your mind. Here's a simple exercise - use spirituality to tell how many wavelengths of light are there in this image. Science can answer it pretty easily.

Ultimate reality is just a deepity.Sounds profound, but is nonsense. You can only have models of reality.

One can appreciate spirituality only when he will study it thoroughly with proper understanding. Just outrightly rejecting it without studying is not skepticism, it's self deception.

You are making a value proposition. And you are making the mistake of assuming that your value proposition has some universal validity. You saying that is the same as me saying anyone who doesn't like my favorite movie XYZ is indulging in self-deception.

Because base of science is very fragile. There are many hard assumptions accepted blindly.

That shows your ignorance of the philosophy of science. The assumption that science makes is that there is an independent reality that has consistent properties and can be studied. That is all. You can prove those assumptions wrong by throwing an object from atop a building and making it not fall down. Go ahead and do that. I'll be waiting.

And quite surprisingly nobody questions them ! :)

Again you are showing your ignorance [1, 2, 3, 4]. Science isn't some unchanging entity based on dogmatic scriptures. It strength lies in causing beliefs that pay rent. Always. Spirituality can do that only in a few instances.

And it is only after science has weeded out the nonsense in spirituality are people like you are able to make statements like "The false perception that spirituality means something "mystical" or "superstitious". It's not a false perception. Karma is nonsense. Chakras are nonsense. Qi is nonsense. Only because science has showed so.

Anonymous said...

Well looking at all your posts and your replies to other's comments it feels like you are not ready to listen to others' views and contemplate upon them. As I said earlier also this is not the way real skepticism goes. Your intention is appreciable but your way is not. It's not that me or other people are giving their views to enter into argument with you or to disprove you. It's just that people realize something genuine and they feel to share with others with good intention to benefit mutually. Till few years back I was thinking in exactly same way you are. But after looking into detail and contemplating on it my views completely changed.

You have curiosity which is good. I feel that you should look more in depth, study more about both science and spirituality. And most importantly study unconditionally (without bias towards science). Then only you will be able to know what spirituality really is. Spirituality wont have existed for thousands of years, for nothing based on pure blind faith can exist for long time. There are thousands of intellectuals, rationalists, scientist who followed, and still follow spirituality.

Lije said...

@Anonymous,

I addressed your points and also gave you evidence for why I said what I said. Address them if you can. That is how a proper discussion happens.

You have curiosity which is good. I feel that you should look more in depth, study more about both science and spirituality.

As I said you are ignorant about science. And yet are hypocritically suggesting that I study more about science? My claims against spirituality are quite specific - it cannot get you to the "Ultimate reality". And I gave an example to demonstrate that. What did you do? Making blanket generalizations. You are just being intellectually dishonest.

Bobby said...

I heard that they are recruiting spiritual team leaders for Somalia. inner satisfaction would do a lot of good to them. Btw- I know that people need food when they are hungry and most of the food is cultivated by a type of people called farmers who have to do some kind of work in their land to grow crops because plants don't really grow if we keep staring at them!

sri said...

"whereof one(a proposition in language of you, both) can not speak(take a willful stand to order imperatively,either of youself,and myself!),thereof all of us must not hear from either............please be!!! and let us, humanly bacteria or viral brahman(s) mind our biological rites.