Tuesday, 4 March 2014

A shady, shadowy, mysterious reality


What is Hinduism?
Who Am I?
What Am I doing Here?
Why do I have to suffer so?

What is Hinduism?


Contrary to popular belief, Hinduism is not a religion at all. A religion has a named founder, a single Holy Book which everyone acknowdeges, and a hierarchy of priests which keep the people in line, using whips if necessary.

Hinduism is a philosophy. It is the result of millennia of thought which has gone into the following three questions:

1.       Who Am I

2.       What Am I doing here?

3.       Why do I have to suffer so?

It focuses on the spirit inside, rather than a God outside. It does not terrorise into submission, nor does it make any claims about being the only true path to God (whoever that is).

In fact, Hinduism does not provide any clear cut answers. It poses the right questions, and then asks you to evaluate logically, what follows. Buddhism, which began as a cult of Hinduism, originally followed this approach, but has now been mired down in ‘tradition’, just like Hinduism. Sad.

I am giving here my evaluation of what the sages and seers have experienced and written down. See for yourself, if you agree.

Back to top

Who Am I



What is this ‘I’ thing? Take me for example. Am I Amit? Yes, I am. But Amit is a name. A word. I am more than a word.

Am I an engineer? Yes, I am. But engineer is a title. I am more than a title.

Am I a man? Yes I am. But being a man is a biological choice that was made when X combined with Y chromosome, a long time ago. Did this ‘I’ exist before that great event? Yes. Separately, in an ovum and a sperm, maybe. But the raw material existed even before I was a man.

Am I a body? Yes, I am. But I exist even if some parts of the body are cut off (hands, legs etc.) Why, if you cut off my head, the head survives for about five seconds on its own. So the ‘I’ would seem to be in the brain, not the body, right?

Am I a brain? If so, am I non-existent if I slip into a coma? Or even a deep sleep? Certainly, being dead is a different state from being in a coma, right?

So who am I?

I am consciousness.

Vedic Hinduism has given supreme importance to ‘Atman’ which is nothing but consciousness. You can experience your own consciousness, by temporarily stripping your mind of all memories. I mean all memories, even the memories of generic things like colors and sounds. It takes a bit of training, but it can be done.

The state which results from this, a state of utter stillness and silence, is called Samadhi.  You experience a single pin-prick of existence in this state: and that is the real you.

Pure consciousness. A peaceful, non-verbal feeling of ‘I am’. That’s all.

Back to top

 What Am I doing Here?


In the beginning there was nothing. Everyone agrees on this.

So how did something, i.e., the universe, come out of nothing? Eh?

Science hasn’t been able to answer this question.

Surprisingly, the sages have given this question a lot of thought in the Vedas (which were first conceived 22,000+ years ago, according to some calculations).

So what is the answer? Simple. Something never came out of nothing at all. The state of the nothing never changed. The ‘something’ that we see around us is an optical illusion.

Before you ditch the ancient sages and start laughing out loud, consider this. Quantum mechanics supports this view. And what is Quantum mechanics? Only the most exciting and cutting edge branch of science we have today!

What QM states is basically this: At the sub-atomic level, nothing is really fixed and solid. Everything is a ‘probability’. We cannot even be certain whether a particle on the sub-atomic level exists. So instead of being built of re-assuring, concrete brick and mortar, the universe is actually built on the purest smoke-and-mirrors. In other words, it’s an illusion! 

Lets go a step further. QM is still not certain what makes the ‘probability’ of a particle being in a certain state coalesce into the reality we know. In simple words, QM does not know what makes all those sub-atomic particles get their act together and actually create reality.

Hinduism, which never ceases to surprise, has given thought to this problem and has an answer. It is the witnessing consciousness which creates reality. That’s right, boys and girls. You and I make the universe exist, merely by looking at it!

 And before you sigh in disbelief, please google the Von Neumann Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics. You will find it states the exact same thing.

That’s what we are here for. Without us, the universe would cease to exist.

Back to top

Why do I have to suffer so?


I don’t.  The sages have given this issue much thought, and concluded that it is the person who inflicts sorrow upon himself.

Consider how.

I am attached to my dog. I know my dog will not survive beyond his fifteen years. Still I love my dog. And it’s natural… who wouldn’t love a dog?

So when my dog dies, I am devastated. Also very understandable.

But after recovering from the shock, I look at the situation from a different angle.

Consider this:

Remember we had discussed that ‘I’ am pure consciousness? Well, sages of Hinduism have said that this ‘I am’ is like an iceberg floating in the ocean – it is made of the same water, and one day, it will melt to become one with the water. But right now, the iceberg has a distinct separate existence.

Let us call the iceberg ‘Atman’ – my soul

Let us call the oceanic water ‘Brahman’ – Everything.

So my soul and the universe are not made of two different materials, but of the same raw material – in this case, consciousness. In fact, everything in the entire multiverse is made of the same proto-material.

Albert Einstein spent his life trying to formulate the Unified field theory (UFT), which is the holy grail of science right now. This UFT essentially states the very same thing: everything is made of the same proto-material. 

Primordial Consciousness which is everywhere like oceanic waters, is Brahman. And we are icebergs – temporarily distinct from Brahman, and surrounded by it – but destined to merge back into it.

What  gives each Atman-soul his distinct identity is also what causes suffering. The feeling of ‘I am’ has separated us from the egoless Brahman. It is the feeling of ‘I am’ which gives rise to ego. And it is the ego which gives rise to all desire and fear.

This mechanism works both ways though. Without an ego, we would be free of desire and suffering. But without an ego, we would also be free of the ‘I’ – and thus free to merge back into that whence we came – the oceanic waters of Brahman.

Back to top