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08 Nov

A Simple Scientific Analysis to Reveal Your Profound Fundamental Reality

Axiom 1: A thing can only know itself directly

Any simple example can make this clear. Let’s say a storage drive. It can only “know” what is stored within it. It cannot know anything outside of itself directly. The only way the drive can know anything outside of itself is when information about that thing reaches the drive and gets stored within it, and the only thing the drive can know about the outside thing is that information stored within it — nothing more nothing less. (The word “know” has been used for a non-living thing only symbolically and represents what information that thing has access to).

Same thing holds true for a processor. It can only know and process information that gets inside it. In order for anything outside to get processed, it has to get inside the processor and that is all the processor can know and process.

In fact, it holds true for any random example. For instance, take a self-driving car. The car only knows what is within it. An outside object is known by the car only when information about that object enters the car’s systems through its various sensors. That information is what the car knows and not the object directly.

So, to generalize: X can only know X directly. If X knows anything about Y which is outside X, it is only because some information about Y has entered X, and that is all what X knows about Y. X cannot know Y directly unless Y itself enters into X.

This can be applied to absolutely anything in this universe (and beyond). And it makes complete sense as it cannot be any other way.

Corollary 1: You only know yourself directly

Now apply this to yourself and what you know. Seeing is one way of knowing. What does the eye see? Does it see the objects outside directly? Do the objects enter the eye directly? Not quite. The eye only sees light that reflects off these objects, enters the eye, gets absorbed at the retina and becomes internal to the eye. Same thing applies to hearing, touching, tasting and smelling (the only other ways you know something). Information (air waves, etc.) travels to the respective sense organs (ears, etc.) and gets absorbed, and the sense organ only knows that which is within it.

Even the brain (or the central nervous system) only knows itself and the activities within it. Some of this activity is caused by information that reaches the brain through the peripheral nervous system. For example, the light that gets absorbed at the retina is converted into neuro-signals that travel to the brain through the optic nerves, reach the vision center and stir certain neural activity there. Same thing applies to all other sense perceptions (sound, touch, taste and smell). Respective neuro-signals get generated at the different sense organs, travel to the respective centers in the brain and stir different neural activities. The brain also has some of its own internal neural activity (known as thoughts, etc.). And that’s all the brain ever knows — itself and the activities within it.

But does that explain what you actually know or experience? If the buck stopped at the brain and that is all what you knew, you would have known yourself as a slushy gray matter with neurons firing left, right and center. But that’s not the case. Your experience is something very different, something very vivid — a world full of sights, sounds and sensations, with some part of it more tangible (sense perceptions) and some less tangible (thoughts, etc.).

This entity which is knowing such a vivid world within itself is called consciousness, and this consciousness is what you actually are. That is because you only ever know what is within consciousness and never anything outside of consciousness directly. And since you can only know what is within yourself directly, you must be the consciousness itself, knowing a vivid world within yourself. You, the consciousness, are neither the brain nor even a part or product of the brain but something completely different, which will become clearer with the next axiom.

Axiom 2: The whole cannot be known by parts

If something is made up of parts, each part just knows itself directly (as per axiom 1), independent of other parts. There is no way for this conglomeration of parts to directly know the sum total of what is known by all its individual parts.

Consider the example of a distributed system consisting of many computers. Each computer that is a part of the distributed system only knows what is within itself directly. Computers may exchange information with each other over the network but at any given point in time each computer only knows what is within itself directly. There is no way for the whole distributed system to directly know the sum total of what is known by all its individual computers. Whenever information is accessed from the distributed system it only comes from one or more of its individual computers that have that information.

Same thing applies to everything made up of parts. And guess what? Everything in this universe is made up of parts because the universe is nothing but a conglomeration of smaller and smaller particles (quarks, leptons, bosons, strings, etc.) coming together to form larger and larger structures and systems. So, even when we said that the eye knows itself directly, it only meant that the individual cells that make up the eye know themselves directly. Each cell functions independently by processing information that reaches it and passing it on to the next set of cells. That’s why the eye doesn’t really “see” anything. It’s just a distributed system of cells processing light, converting it into neuro-signals and passing those on to the brain, with no way for the eye to really “see” the sum total of information being processed by all its individual cells. In fact, even the cells are further made up of smaller parts and so no.

Corollary 2: You are partless consciousness

The above axiom is also true of the brain as it’s also nothing but a conglomeration of cells. It’s not possible for the brain to directly know the sum total of all the information and activity within its parts simultaneously as a coherent world of sights, sounds and sensations. Even a part of the brain cannot do that as every part will itself be made up of smaller parts. This is very powerful reasoning why you can neither be the brain nor a part of it. Moreover, you cannot be a product of the brain either, as anything made up of parts can only produce something that is also made up of parts, with a part of the source producing a part of the product. If a product of the brain will also be made up of parts, it will have the same issue of not being able to directly know the sum total of what is known by all its individual parts.

Since you, the consciousness, know a vivid world within yourself as a whole, you cannot be made up of parts. Hence, you are partless consciousness which is neither a part nor a product of the brain (or any other part of the body or the whole body for that matter), You, the partless consciousness, are an entity completely different from the brain and the body.

Axiom 3: Partless implies Infinite

So far the analysis was of objects that are part of the world we know and hence easier to understand. But this axiom is going to be very subtle because we have never encountered any object in this world that is partless as they are all made up of smaller and smaller parts and particles. We have no experience of what a partless entity could be like. Some subtle thinking can reveal it though.

If an entity is partless, it must also be formless. Because a form needs different parts to come together in a certain way to build that form. Even the most nondescript form (like a spherical object) has different sides to it (this side, opposite side, inside, outside, etc.). Anything which has sides must have parts too as only different parts can make up the different sides. When something is in contact with one side of an entity, it can only be in contact with a part of the entity and not with the other parts which make up the other sides. Hence, an entity that is partless will also be formless.

If an entity is formless, it has to be limitless or infinite in every dimension. Because if it’s limited in even one dimension, that will result in a boundary, and boundaries define a form. For example, an infinite line is limitless only in one dimension but limited in other dimensions and hence still possess the form of a line. Similarly, an infinite plane is limitless in two dimensions but limited in the third dimension and hence still possess the form of a plane. Hence, anything which is limited in even one dimension will possess a form imposed by that dimension. Hence, an entity that is formless will also be limitless or infinite in every dimension.

Corollary 3: You are Infinite Consciousness, the One and only Reality, and the whole universe is only an appearance within you

As implied by the above axiom, you, the partless consciousness, are also formless and limitless in every possible dimension. Which means nothing else exists outside of you. Because if anything else exists outside of you, it implies a limit where you end and the other entity begins. This means that the whole universe (and anything else) must all be within you. Moreover, since you are partless whereas the universe is made up of parts, it cannot be real and must only be a false appearance within you, as nothing real made up of parts can exist within a partless entity. Hence, you are the one and only Infinite Reality that actually exists. It’s important to note that you are also unchanging as change is only possible from one finite to another finite on at least one dimension whereas you are Infinite in every possible dimension.

Important question: If you are Infinite Consciousness, the One and only Reality, and the whole universe is an appearance within you, then why do you seem to know only a part of it and that too channeled through a brain and a set of sense organs housed within a body?

Here’s an explanation: Since you are Consciousness, your very nature is to know yourself. But since you are Infinite you cannot know yourself directly in entirety, because anything that is known in entirety is limited to that knowing and hence finite. Hence you, the Infinite Reality, cannot know yourself as you actually are but only as you are not i.e. as false finite things. Since there are infinite possibilities of the type of false finite things that can appear within the Infinite, every possible imaginable and unimaginable finite thing is actually appearing within you. One set of such false finite appearances are dream-like virtual reality simulations. Within each simulation, there is an appearance of a brain and a set of sense organs and other organs housed within a body that represents a living being, through which a world teeming with other beings and things seems be known or experienced. You, the Infinite Consciousness, are knowing each simulation individually as all of them are appearing within you. If you would have known multiple simulations together, it would have become a hodge-podge, with too many overlapping sights, sounds and sensations, which would have not made any sense. Hence the best way to know these simulations is to know them individually and separate from each other. All these simulations are still interconnected as they are all appearing within you, the Infinite Consciousness, and hence they share common objects and events. Each of these dream-like simulations have such a structure that you tend to feel identified with a fake body-mind complex appearing within that simulation (just like it happens during a dream), but you are never actually identified and always remain unattached from the simulation. Nothing of the simulation can ever affect or harm you in any way as it’s not real.

Finally, since Infinite Consciousness cannot be known directly in entirety as it actually is, it can never be available for direct investigation making it impossible to describe its actual nature. But this much is very clear from the above analysis that you are none other than the Infinite Partless Consciousness, the One and only Unchanging Reality that actually exists!

(This article was cross-posted from happinessjourney.net/post/667314451407568896/a-simple-scientific-analysis-to-reveal-your)

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01 Jul

eGod — when God gets eGo’d

“God alone is real, the world is false; and the individual being is none other than God.”

“God misunderstood is the world; the world properly understood is God.”

“It’s not that there is one god or many gods, there is only God.”

The term God is widely misunderstood to be referring to a supernatural anthropomorphic being in the heavens. Instead it refers to the one and only Reality that actually exists — the ultimate formless partless unchanging infinite Reality which is the ground of all existence, the most fundamental substratum of this universe, the underlying basis and the very essence of everything, the highest Truth beyond which there is nothing more to be known. The various gods represented in different religions are symbolisms pointing to the same Reality. It is what we all are seeking — knowingly or unknowingly — either through externally-focused science or through internally-focused spirituality or just through life itself. The universe with all its living and non-living constituents is nothing but a virtual reality manifesting within God alone. Hence the universe can very well be termed eGod (as adding the prefix “e” to something “real” refers to its “virtual” incarnation e.g. e + mail = email, e + commerce = ecommerce, and the likes).

Why does God manifest as eGod?

It’s because God gets eGo’d. This is not a play on words. It’s the truth. The reason why God manifests as eGod is because of a false individual ego i.e. a wrong identification with a body-mind complex. This ego segregates the world into “I” and “not I”, “mine” and “not mine”, “I like” and “I dislike”, “I want” and “I don’t want”, etc. making the one undivided Reality manifest as a world of multiplicity. It’s very much like a dream. The whole dream world is none other than the mind itself but since we assume a false identification with a particular body in the dream, the dream world seems to be divided into multiplicity. The same thing happens in a virtual reality simulation. It’s uncanny how quickly we take ourselves to be a fake body within a simulation and start behaving as if that is what we actually are!

eGod is a collection of countless such dream-like simulations manifesting within God with each simulation representing an individual being with a false ego and a private little world. In other words, God is the “hardware” — the real stuff — and eGod is a bunch of “software” simulations — virtual fluff. The intricate nature of each simulation is such that it’s able to superimpose a false ego on God and also feel very real (just like a dream feels real while we are in the dream). The moment one drops this false ego and knows oneself to be none other than the ultimate Reality, the whole world collapses (not literally but in understanding) into oneness. That is when one starts seeing everything as a virtual manifestation of God alone. It’s like a mind dreaming while also knowing that it’s its own dream.

But don’t mistake this simulation to be a dream of your mind. What you call as “your mind” is just a part of a dream-like simulation manifesting within the underlying Reality. And since the Reality is infinite, the dream-like simulations within it are infinitely more sophisticated, complex and long-lasting than the dreams of our infinitesimally small minds. Moreover, these countless simulations share common objects/events and are so inter-connected that it all seems to be one coherent universe. It’s somewhat like a MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game) in which the players have a separate simulation going on on their respective computers and they see the game only from their individual perspective but at the same time show up in each other’s simulations as well as share common objects/events giving rise to the feeling that it’s one coherent virtual reality. The key difference is that in a MMORPG each player is a separate individual where as in eGod, God alone is assuming different identities and playing with Itself!

Each individual simulation turns off and back on every time that individual goes into deep dreamless sleep and comes out of it. The whole eGod virtual reality also shuts down after a while and restarts again later. This cycle of eGod or the universe manifesting and unmanifesting in God is beginningless and endless. Each eGod instance could be different from the previous one and it won’t be a surprise if multiple eGods (i.e. multiple universes) manifest within God simultaneously with each eGod being a separate MMORPG-like virtual reality having it’s own collection of individual simulations.

But why should an eGod be manifesting within God at all?

It’s due to the very nature of God which is existence-consciousness-bliss. The nature of consciousness is to experience, so it tries to experience the one and only Reality that actually exists which is itself. But the Reality is infinite and not experienceable in entirety. When there is an attempt to experience the inexperienceable, an illusion is generated in the form of countless dream-like simulations called eGod. For better clarity, take the case of the eyes as an illustration. The nature of the eyes is to see but when they try to see the sky which is so vast that it cannot be seen by them in entirety, an illusion is generated and the sky looks like a hemispherical dome (which it is not).

Hence, eGod manifests within God due to the very nature of the infinite Reality trying to experience itself. The existence-consciousness-bliss nature of God manifests in all the living and non-living constituents of eGod with varying degrees. The consciousness nature manifests more prominently as countless experiencers, the existence nature manifests more prominently as the various experienced objects, and the bliss nature manifests more prominently as the corresponding experiences. Since existence-consciousness-bliss is one inseparable Reality and not three separate things, the experiencers along with their respective experienced objects and the corresponding experiences are also inseparable. And since infinite consciousness also implies infinite intelligence, these simulations are of very high quality with lot of systematism, complexity and inter-connectedness. All of it is so flawless and intricate that it feels very real.

Please note that God doesn’t do this deliberately. It’s the very nature of God. Just like it’s the nature of fire to burn, water to wet, sun to illumine, etc. Fire cannot be said to be doing anything specifically when it burns something. It burns as that’s its very nature of being hot (there is no such thing as a cold fire). Similarly, God cannot be said to be doing anything specifically. It’s the very nature of God to manifest as eGod.

It’s also important to note that eGod is not a problem in itself. The actual problem begins only when it gets eGo’d. With ego, eGod is full of conflicts; without ego, it’s full of harmony and peace!

Why and how to drop this false ego?

This understanding of the Reality is not just for intellectual entertainment. It is to help us realize that we are actually one infinite undivided Reality and that we are only mistaking ourselves to be little creatures of flesh and blood. All problems in life sprout from this misunderstanding as we keep worrying about the survival and safety of something we are not. It’s ok to continue to play our role in this virtual simulation but there is no point worrying about anything as none of it is actually real. This feels quite liberating as it takes away a huge burden off our shoulders. And it’s only possible when we drop the false ego by knowing that we are not this body-mind complex we mistake ourselves to be. We are the one and only formless partless unchanging infinite Reality which cannot be touched or affected by a virtual simulation in any way. Since there is nothing else apart from the Reality there is no conflict of any sorts — just peace and harmony. This realization does not solve all the artificial problems of life, it dissolves them! It’s like we don’t have to solve each and every petty problem in a dream. We just have to know it’s a dream and all the problems lose their grip on us.

In order to drop the false ego, one should systematically learn about the Reality and sincerely contemplate upon it to be convinced. There will be many doubts that have to be resolved through proper reasoning and inquiry into one’s own experience. After intellectual conviction, one can start assimilating it in the mind by living life accordingly. Even though it might take time for it to stabilize, the practice gets validated and starts benefiting every step of the way by dissolving more and more problems of life and bringing more and more peace and joy as one progresses. The final realization will only come by God’s grace though as it’s God’s nature that gives rise to eGod and the false ego. The puny little mind cannot overcome God’s natural power. But the practice will surely prepare the mind to receive and recognize the grace when it comes. The best place to start is to explore the teachings of Advaita (Nondual) Vedanta which is the highest and deepest exposition of the Reality. My recent articles are also on this subject. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions (npabuwal gmail).

Once the realization dawns, life could be like watching a movie. You can enjoy the movie through its good parts and whenever it gets ugly, like if you get too scared or sad, you can simply remind yourself that you are falsely identifying with a character in the movie and you are actually unscathed. You can just relax by sinking back into your real nature of being God, smile, and then jump back in when ready. Moreover, your life will be full of love for everyone as you will know you are not just one of the characters in the movie but the whole movie along with all its characters is within God — the real you — and you alone are manifesting as everything. That’s why love, grace, compassion, kindness, mercy, and all the wonderful qualities come very naturally to God as there is nothing apart from God. And remember, this realization is also at the level of the mind and part of the simulation itself. As God, you were, are and will always be free!

“The eye with which I see God is the same eye with which God sees me.”

“We are not human beings trying to have a spiritual experience. We are a spiritual Being having human experiences”

“Whether you know or not, whether you agree or not, you are none other than God.”

(This article was cross-posted from happinessjourney.net/post/622649780649312256/egod-when-god-gets-egod)

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28 Jan

What I Am (and You Are Too!)

I feel I am a conscious entity in which a simulation, constituting of gross and subtle objects/things, is appearing. The gross (aka physical) objects include a body and a world entering through the sense organs, in the form of gross sights, sounds and sensations. The subtle objects include thoughts and emotions (that are also just thoughts loaded with feelings) in the form of subtle sights, sounds and sensations. These objects are appearing directly in me, otherwise I would not have been able to know/experience them. It’s important to note that even though I experience a body and a world directly, I do not experience a so-called mind (which is actually a composite term used for the mind-intellect-memory-ego combo) directly. The mind-composite is only implied by the type of thoughts that appear in me. To clarify, I do not experience any specific object that I can point to and say that is the mind or the intellect or the memory or the ego. The mind is implied due to some of the thoughts being reactionary and habitual, the intellect is implied due to some of the thoughts being intelligent and analytical, the memory is implied due to some of the thoughts being of past remembrances, and the ego is implied due to some of the thoughts containing an “I” or “my” identity. I only experience these thoughts directly, along with the corresponding parts of the brain that feel active or affected during those thoughts, and never the mind-composite directly.

I further feel that the simulation that is appearing in me is just that – an appearance. I am actually untouched and unaffected by it. Even though I experience certain sensations that can be labeled as pleasant or unpleasant, they are just gross objects appearing in me but they do not affect me. Certain sensations are felt in the body like the feelings of hunger, thirst, itch, ache, etc.. And what we call mental feelings are also nothing but physical sensations felt in the brain tissues. E.g. the feeling of stress is just some brain tissues getting overly strained due to lot of thinking and the feeling of anger is just some brain tissues getting overly heated. So all mental feelings are nothing but physical sensations of brain tissues which are also sometimes accompanied with certain bodily sensations like palpitations, sweating, shallow/rapid breathing, etc. All these sensations just appear in me as gross objects and I am untouched by them. I am just a witness of them. I am like a screen that is unaffected by the movie playing on it, irrespective of how pleasant or unpleasant the movie might be.

When the objective appearances vanish and the simulation stops in deep absorption, I experience my real nature as pure existence-consciousness-bliss (sat-chit-ananda). I do not feel any limitation of time, space, object, etc. in that state. This makes me believe that I am actually unlimited and formless but the simulation imposes an artificial feeling of being contained within a body form with all corresponding limitations. Other people also report similar simulatory experiences, but these simulations are not completely independent. They seem to share common gross objects and events which leads to the conclusion there is just one underlying reality. You, I and others are actually that one reality and not separate entities.

So, even though I am one infinite partless reality, I somehow seem to experience countless parallel simulations simultaneously as separate individuals – each forming a different viewpoint of one big simulation called the universe. It seems like the universe is one gigantic stream of events flowing constantly from one moment to another, and that I know everything that is to be known in this universe from different viewpoints. The individual simulations seem to represent different cross-sections of the universe as experienced from the viewpoints of different individuals. Or maybe there are only these individual simulations and the feeling of one universe is only incidental as these simulations seem to be interconnected sharing common gross objects and events. In either case, I am one reality of the nature of existence-consciousness-bliss with an uncanny ability of generating and focusing at countless simulations and experiencing them simultaneously and separately.

But why should I be doing this? Why can I not just remain as pure existence-consciousness-bliss without generating and experiencing these simulations within me?

Here’s the best explanation I have found:

Take the case of the eyes as an illustration. Their nature is to see. Now consider the sky. It’s so vast it cannot be seen in entirety by these tiny eyes. But when you turn your head upwards, the eyes try to see that which cannot be seen in entirety. The result is an error and the sky looks like a hemispherical dome (which it is not) to the eyes. In the same way, the nature of consciousness is to experience, so it tries to experience the one and only reality that actually exists which is itself. But the reality is infinite and not experiencable in entirety. When there is an attempt to experience the inexperiencable, an error is generated in the form of countless interconnected simulations – each with an experiencer, various experienced objects and their corresponding experiences. The consciousness aspect of the reality appears more prominently as the experiencers, the existence aspect appears more prominently as the experienced objects, and the bliss aspect appears more prominently as the corresponding experiences. So all these countless simulations are just an error produced by the very nature of the infinite reality trying to experience itself. These simulations manifest the infinite reality in a finite way so the consciousness of the experiencers, the existence of the experienced objects, and the bliss in the experiences are all finite, of varying degrees and transient instead of being infinite and permanent. Moreover, since infinite consciousness also implies infinite intelligence, these simulations are of very high quality following various types of laws both at micro and macro cosmic levels with lot of systematism and interconnectedness. They are so flawless and well-structured that they appear to be very real. But it’s important to note that these simulations are absolutely harmless as they are not actually real and are just appearances in the one unblemished reality that I am (and everyone is)!

Another question that might arise is that once this understanding of being the one infinite reality dawns upon a particular individual, what makes him/her continue to experience the simulation and act through a body?

The answer is quite simple. The appearance of experience and action is just part of the simulation and going on of its own accord. The infinite reality is not actually doing anything deliberately. The simulations simply appear in it by its very nature and keep going, irrespective of whether the understanding of being the one underlying reality has dawned upon a particular individual or not. The only difference it would make is that the actions of an individual after this understanding has dawned would appear to be in accordance with that understanding.

Note: You can replace all the occurrences of words “I” & “me” with “you” and “my” with “your” in the above article and it will still be true! I am just trying to take a step back from the apparent simulation and revel in the underlying reality which you, I and everyone actually is. I would highly encourage you to try it too. Its extremely liberating!

(This article was cross-posted from happinessjourney.net/post/190519907835/what-i-am-and-you-are-too)

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11 Nov

Know What You are by What You Know

You can never know anything outside of yourself directly. Even when you think you know something outside, you really just know an interpretation of it within yourself. You gather information from outside and it gets interpreted within you and the only thing you ever know about the outside world is that internal interpretation.

For instance, when you are seeing something and you know its there, you are not actually seeing it directly. Light waves reflect off different objects, enter your eyes, get converted into neuro-signals that travel to your brain through the nerves, and get interpreted as images full of colors, brightness, etc. And the only thing you ever see are these interpreted images within you. You never see any of the objects outside of you directly. Because if you were able to see them directly, you would have probably seen a vast of ocean of particles and waves and not colors, etc. These colors don’t really exist. They are just internal interpretation of different wavelengths of light falling on your retina. If your eyes had the capability of detecting a different spectrum of light (like some animals do), you would have seen something quite different. Same thing happens when you are hearing or touching or smelling or tasting something. Information just enters through your various sense organs, get converted into neuro-signals according to the capability of these organs, travel to your brain and get interpreted variously. The sounds and sensations you experience don’t really exist. They are just internal interpretations of different neuro-signals generated by your eardrums, skin, nose, tongue, etc. The only thing you ever know about the outside world is this interpreted information within.

There are two important implications of this:

  1. You can know yourself and the interpreted information within yourself directly. You don’t need a way of gathering information about yourself and interpreting it to know yourself. Because, otherwise, such a process would go ad-infinitum and you would never be able to know anything.
  2. If a mechanism is required to gather information about something in order for you to know it, that something cannot be you. Because if it was you, you would have known it directly.

Let’s apply this understanding:

Since you need a way to gather information about the outside world and interpret it within yourself, you cannot be the outside world. This is easy to agree with. But now consider your own body. Information about your body is gathered through the peripheral nervous system and delivered to the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). All the pains, aches, itches, temperature and pressure sensations, etc. of the body that you feel are nothing but interpretation of information that reaches the central nervous system. Whatever you know about your body is through this information. If you were the body, you would have known it directly and there would have been no need for a mechanism to gather information in order to know it. Moreover, If you were the body, you would have known each and every little part and function of it directly. But that’s not the case either as you do not know things that are out of reach of the peripheral nervous system like the flowing blood, insides of your bones and many of the organs, etc. (unless of course you cut open the body and actually see them or touch them, which again is information gathered through the peripheral nervous system). This clearly indicates that you cannot be the body.

So are you the central nervous system? If you were the central nervous system i.e. the brain and spinal cord, you would have known yourself as slushy gray matter through which bio-electro-chemical signals keep whizzing from time to time. But that’s not the case. What you experience is a crisp clear world full for sights, sounds and sensations. Some of the experiences are gross and more tangible, and some are subtle and less tangible. The information gathered from the body and the outside world tends to result in a more gross experience and certain activities of the brain like thoughts, emotions, etc. tend to be more subtle. This indicates that you are not the central nervous system but something quite different.

You are actually that crisp clear part-less unbroken entity within which all the information gathered at the central nervous system gets interpreted. The term for it is consciousness. This consciousness and all the interpreted information within it, or the absence of interpretations while you are in deep sleep or in a state of trance, is all that you ever know directly. You do not know anything else directly.

Many people mistake it for the mind. The mind is a collection of thoughts, emotions, memories, desires, tendencies, etc. These are activities of the brain that are interpreted within consciousness as subtle sights, sounds and sensations. You are not anything that is being interpreted, you are that within which all of this is being interpreted and that is consciousness. The only thing you ever know directly is consciousness and within it you experience the various interpretations of information gathered from outside (brain, body and the world).

A very important point to note here is that its not your consciousness, you are the consciousness. Because if consciousness was something that was yours but it wasn’t you, you would have needed another way of gathering information from your consciousness and interpreting it within yourself – just like you have to gather information about your body and your brain. And this chain would have continued endlessly. But thankfully thats not the case and the buck stops at consciousness and that is what you actually are.

So what really is this consciousness? Where does it come from? Is it generated by the brain or is it something independent? How does information gathered by the brain appear within consciousness? If I am consciousness, why does it feel like I am a body-mind complex? Why does the consciousness seem to be attached to the body and mind? Does consciousness continue to exist after the body perishes? What benefit is it to me by knowing that I am consciousness?

If these and more such questions are occurring to you, you are on the right track to knowing what you really are. These questions are very important and there are very clear answers to all of them. My recent articles have dealt with some of them and can provide a good overall understanding. Please feel free to reach out to me (npabuwal at gmail) if you would like to know more. I ll gladly share further insights and references.

But here’s a brain-teaser to leave you with: If consciousness has this innate capability of creating appearances of various gross and subtle things within it and that is all you ever experience, what’s the need of a real external world? Why can’t the whole universe just be an appearance within a universal consciousness?

(This article was cross-posted from happinessjourney.net/post/167379908570/know-what-you-are-by-what-you-know)

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04 Feb

What Ought to be the Ultimate Reality of this Universe

Many of us have pondered over this question as to what is the ultimate underlying reality of this universe. Mainstream thought is that this universe is a vast ocean of space, time, particles, fields, strings, energy, etc. arranged in a particular fashion. But there are still lot of open questions like, where did all this come from, how far does it extend, when did it all come into existence, how long will it last, and so on. There are theories around all of these questions but no definitive answers which indicates a lack of understanding of the underlying reality. Let’s take a step back and see how we can actually derive the ultimate reality of this universe through straightforward logic and sensibility using a simple step-by-step process:

  1. First point to understand is that something cannot come into existence out of absolute nothingness and then dissolve back into absolute nothingness (absolute nothingness means that there is absolutely nothing i.e. not even empty space). This means that something or things must have always existed and should continue to exist forever. Things might get transformed from one thing into another, but there must always be something or the other existing. This implies that existence cannot be time-bound and must be eternal.
  2. Next point to understand is that it doesn’t make sense for something or things to exist only within certain boundaries with absolute nothingness beyond those boundaries. Absolute nothingness, by definition, means that there is absolutely nothing so what will impose a boundary? A thing will never limit itself unless there is something else imposing a limit. And if there is something else, then that is also a thing that exists and part of the overall existence. This can be extended through infinity, which implies that existence cannot be bounded and must be infinite. This can be applied to both space and time.
  3. The question that arises now is how many things actually exist and what are they like. Let’s first figure out how many types of things might be existing. If there exist more than one type, what is keeping two types of things, say T1 and T2, separate from each other? We need a third type, say T3, to keep T1 and T2 separate. We then need T4 to keep T1 and T3 separate, and T5 to keep T3 and T2 separate, and so on ad infinitum. Another possibility is that T3 separates T1 and T2, T2 separates T1 and T3, and T1 separates T3 and T2. But even this kind of inter-leaving will go on to infinite levels. These are implausible scenarios as, even if they were possible, the complexity would be too enormous to last long. So its not feasible for multiple types of things to co-exist together.

    If only one type of thing can exist at any given time, the next question that arises is whether there co-exists only one thing of that type or multiple things of the same type. If there are multiple things of the same type, what keeps them separate from each other? A thing cannot separate two other things of the same type, as how will the boundaries be defined? Moreover, there cannot be absolutely nothing in-between. So its not feasible for multiple things of the same type to co-exist together, and hence only one thing must exist. This one thing must not have any parts either, otherwise the same problem of what separates these parts from each other would come up. For this reason, it has to be a continuous homogeneous whole and cannot be made of parts or particles (which are just tiny parts). We can also safely say that this one thing that exists would not change over time, as change in a thing is caused only by another thing, but there is nothing else that exists to cause a change. Hence, our conclusion so far is that there must be one and only one thing that exists which is infinite, eternal, continuous, homogeneous, part-less and unchanging.

  4. If our above conclusion is correct, the multiplicity, variety and change that we observe in this universe must be just an appearance and not real. This is only possible if the one thing that exists has an innate capability of appearing as many without having to divide itself into parts. Please note that its not as if this one thing is appearing as many to something else. There is nothing else apart from this one thing, so this appearance of many has to be within itself. There is only one such thing we know of that has this capability – consciousness. Consider the individual consciousness that each one of us feels within our respective minds. Even though our consciousness is a single whole and not segmented into parts, we still see a world of many things – people, objects, places, events, etc. – in a dream. Its not as if all these things have somehow physically entered into our head during the dream. They are just an appearance within our consciousness and seem quite vivid and aware of each other, and behave just like we behave in the world when we are awake. So much so that, while we are dreaming, we are absolutely unaware that we are in a dream-world and not in a waking-world. Exactly like our respective dream-worlds are appearances within our individual consciousness, this whole universe is a dream-like appearance within the underlying reality that is none other than consciousness. Since this universal consciousness is infinite and must have infinite capability, the universe appears to be very real with all its vastness and intricate details. Even the perception of space, time, matter, etc. that we have in the waking-world is exactly like we have such perceptions in a dream-world which seem to be quite real while we are in the dream. Its important to note that the universe is not a dream in your or mine or anyone else’s individual consciousness, but its a dream in the universal consciousness. And the body-mind complex that you consider yourself to be is nothing but an appearance in this universal dream just like other objects. This universal consciousness alone appears as individual consciousness within all living beings too.

    Here’s another way to see how this one and only thing that exists is actually consciousness. Whenever we see an something appearing as something else, the appearance maintains certain characteristics of the actual thing. E.g. when a rope lying in a semi-dark room appears as a snake, certain characteristics of the rope like the length, thickness, orientation, etc. are maintained in the snake appearance. Such is true with all appearances. This means that even the universe, although appearing as many with all its variety, must be maintaining certain characteristics of the real thing. Since the real thing is the same throughout, any characteristic that appears universally can most probably be attributed to the real thing. Keeping this in mind, when we observe different things in this universe – no matter how small or big – one characteristic we definitely notice is that everything has a field around it which makes it “aware” of other things within its vicinity. These fields include the electro-magnetic field, weak and strong nuclear field, gravitational field, etc. From the smallest of the particles to the largest of the galaxies, all exhibit this characteristic. This is a strong indication that awareness or consciousness belongs to the underlying reality. Moreover, the underlying reality must be consciousness itself and not a thing which is conscious as that would need two types of things – consciousness and the thing which is conscious – but we have already ruled out existence of more than one type of thing.

    Another simple reason why the ultimate reality must be consciousness is that if its not consciousness, it would be something dead and inert. And we cannot expect something dead and inert to generate such a sophisticated appearance within itself which even includes conscious living beings.

  5. One more characteristic that is observed universally is that every part and particle of this universe is not just “aware” of other things within its vicinity, but is also “interacting” with them. If the underlying reality would have been just plain consciousness, the universe could have been just a huge cloud of particles that only had awareness of each other without any interaction amongst them. But we notice that things either attract each other or repel each other and, overall, things seem to continuously move towards a more stable, more positive state, as is evident from how the universe has arranged itself over time. The fact that we observe such interaction universally indicates that the reality also has a positivity associated with it, called bliss. This bliss is the driving factor behind all types of interaction amidst all living and non-living things. The term “bliss” will be clearer when we consider that everything we ever do is so that we can feel good. All feelings like happiness, joy, peace, serenity, delight, ecstasy, etc. fall under the category of feeling good and the highest order of feeling good is called bliss, which is what we all are striving for. Its the underlying driving factor behind all our actions.

Based on the above analysis, we can conclude that the ultimate Reality of this universe ought to be One, Infinite, Eternal, Continuous, Homogeneous, Part-less, Unchanging Existence-Consciousness-Bliss in which the whole universe appears and disappears in cycles, just like dreams appear and disappear in us. Moreover, there doesn’t have to be only one universe. There can be any number of universes co-existing simultaneously since they are all just appearances in a reality that is infinite.

We have thus derived the ultimate reality using a purely objective analysis. Now compare it with the previous article, Who Are You Really, in which the exact same reality was derived using a purely subjective analysis. If both objective and subjective analyses point to the exact same reality, there must be some truth to it. Imagine what it would be like when you realize that you are not this severely limited body-mind complex, but you are actually the one and only thing that really exists which is of the nature of infinite, eternal, continuous, unchanging bliss!

(This article was cross-posted from happinessjourney.net/post/156793577905/what-ought-to-be-the-ultimate-reality-of-this)

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12 Nov

Who Are You Really?

If you ask yourself who you are, the answer might sound like: I am this person reading this article whose name is XYZ, who is a male or a female, who looks like the image in the mirror, living in ABC city, working as blah-blah, child/parent/spouse of so-and-so, having such-and-such thoughts, feelings, experiences, knowledge, skills, capabilities, memories, tendencies, and so on so forth. All these answers pertain to what can be called in a nutshell – a body-mind complex. There are high chances that this is what you take yourself to be.

Now consider this: You are a fully grown adult now, but you were once a little baby, a small boy/girl and a young teenager. Research suggests that, sparing few types of cells, most cells in the body die within few years and get constantly replaced with new ones. So, physiologically speaking, most of your current body cells were not present ten or twenty or thirty years ago which means you had materially different bodies back then. Even the state of your mind as a baby/child/teenager was very different than what you have now. So, if you are just a body-mind complex, you must have been someone else in the past as your body and mind have been very different at different stages of your life, and you will yet again turn into someone else as you grow older. But that’s not how you feel about yourself. You think you are one and the same entity throughout your life whose body and mind changes over time. So, if you are always the same entity, how can you be the body-mind complex which is constantly changing?

Here’s another way to look at it: Let’s say its possible for you to take-up an entirely new body which is everything you always wanted – healthier, stronger, better looking, more functional, and without any of the pains, aches and problems of your current body. And let’s say you don’t lose any of the advantages of your current body and people around you somehow continue to recognize you as before. Chances are you would want to sign-up for this offer. You would be willing to swap your mind too if you are offered a different mind with a more positive personality, stronger intellect, sharper memory, better knowledge and skills and capabilities, and much lesser issues compared to your current mind say in terms of anger, fear, lust, shame, hatred, etc., while still making sure that you don’t lose any of the advantages of your current mind. These are clear indications that you are neither the body nor the mind, because if you were really those, you would have never considered swapping them out as it would have meant the end of your current existence and birth of someone else.

Yet another way to arrive at the same conclusion: Let’s say you think you are fat and want to reduce your weight by half. It basically means that you would lose half your body. Or, for some reason, you lose a limb or two like a leg or an arm, or maybe more which makes-up a large part of your body. Would you think that you are only a part of what you were earlier or would you still consider yourself to be the same whole person? It applies to the mind too. Even if you lose a part of it like your memory or knowledge or intellect or any such thing, which happens a lot with age, you would still think you are the same person. These are again clear indications that you are neither the body nor the mind.

Let me re-iterate. If you were really just the body-mind complex and nothing more, any substantial change in the body and/or the mind would have meant that you have turned into someone else. But that’s not how you feel about yourself. You always feel that you are the same person throughout your life even though your personality might be undergoing various changes. Think about it. Contemplate on it. Re-read if you need to and you will begin to get it. If you are still not getting it, its primarily because of your natural attachment to the body and mind which is preventing you from believing that you are not them. Its not easy to get rid of this attachment and takes time.

Lets try to further understand what’s going on. Consider a house that you are familiar with. As time goes, you change the furniture, appliances, fittings, color scheme, and many such things. You may even remodel it and add/remove/change sections over time. So much so that the house might look very different from what it looked say thirty years ago – both from inside and outside. But you would still consider it to be the same house. In fact, as long as you don’t completely demolish the house and re-construct a new one, you would continue to call it the same house irrespective of the extent of change it undergoes. This is because what you refer to as the house is not really the material building itself but a concept of the house in your mind. As time passes and the house keeps changing materially, the concept keeps adapting to the change and you keep referring to it as the house. The same thing applies to your own body-mind. What you refer to as yourself is not the body-mind complex directly but a concept of it in your mind that remains one but keeps pointing to the changed body-mind.

Now the killer: Do you think you are really that concept in the mind you are referring to as yourself, or are you the one who is referring to that concept?

You have come a long way in trying to understand who or what you really are – all the way from thinking you are just a body-mind complex to thinking you are some entity that is referring to a concept of your body-mind as yourself. Its difficult to go beyond this understanding just through intellectual analysis, reasoning or normal experience. So it helps to seek guidance from those who have been successful in knowing their real self, learn from what they have to say about it, and then validate it for yourself. There have been many such through the millenniums who have left their invaluable and timeless teachings. If we study their teachings, we will find one thing in common – they all say that who or what we really are is indescribable in words. There is good reason for that. Its impossible to communicate even a normal day-to-day experience in words (like the experience of eating an ice-cream or listening to a piece of music or looking at a beautiful scenery) to someone else and make them come even close to how you feel. They have to experience it for themselves. If such is the case for a normal experience, what to say of our real self which is far subtler. Even then, for others benefit, these teachers atleast indicate what our real self is like and describe practices to know and experience it internally.

The best term used to indicate the real self (aka Self), as found in the teachings in Upanishads and other Indian scriptures, is Sat-Chit-Ananda which means Existence-Consciousness-Bliss. These are not three words but one word represented by a conjunction of three words as there is no single word that can express the meaning fully. What it means is that the essence of the Self is pure and absolute Existence, Consciousness and Bliss. Pure and absolute Existence implies that its not existence of a particular thing or existence dependent on something, but Existence in itself which is the ground for existence of all things. Pure and absolute Consciousness implies that its not a particular conscious being or consciousness of a particular thing, but Consciousness in itself which is the ground for all types of conscious activities. Pure and absolute Bliss implies that its not a particular type of nice feeling, but Bliss in itself which is the ground for all types of positive feelings (like happiness, joy, peace, etc.). Moreover, all three i.e. Existence, Consciousness and Bliss, go together at all times and are not disjoint.

So, your real Self is not a particular entity that is existing, conscious and blissful, but is Existence-Consciousness-Bliss itself in its purest and absolute sense.

If this sounds vague to you, you are not alone. As mentioned above, who or what you really are is indescribable in words, so these words are only indicative in nature. You need to experience your true Self internally and then only will you really know who you are. But here’s why it atleast makes sense for the Self to be Existence-Consciousness-Bliss:

Let’s take up Consciousness first. Existence and Bliss will follow through. Consider any day-to-day experience, like looking at something. The light reflected from an object enters your eyes and falls on your retina that generates neuro-signals which travel through your optical nerves and result in some bio-electro-chemical activity in your brain that is somehow interpreted as a visual scene within your consciousness. What you see is not the sub-atomic particles that make-up the object, nor the light particles, nor the neuro-signals, nor the bio-electro-chemical activities in the brain, but something quite different from the materials involved in the whole process – a 3D image with different colors and brightness. Same thing happens when you are listening to something – the surround sound that you experience is quite different from the materials involved in the hearing process. In fact, your experience of anything – whether its physical or mental – is always of a construct in your consciousness and never of the matter involved directly. Actually matter and consciousness are so intrinsically different that its impossible for them to interact with each other. Hence, what we think of as matter is also nothing but a construct in consciousness that just seems to have matter-like properties. Even the concept of your own body-mind that you refer to as yourself is also nothing but a construct in consciousness.

If you are having a problem in understanding what consciousness means, try this: Say someone creates a robot, an android, that is designed to look and behave exactly like you. Its been programmed to act, speak and even think like you. The way you talk/walk/sit/stand, your skin, your hair, your features, your expressions, everything being exactly the same. So much so that no one will ever be able to tell apart any difference between the android and you. Even after all this there will still be one key difference between the android and you – the inner subjective experience of being you. Its only present in you and will be absent in the robot. This is consciousness.

Its important to note that this is not “your” consciousness as by “your” you mean your body-mind, and its not that consciousness is within the body-mind but the body-mind is appearing within consciousness. What you call as “your” consciousness is only a “reflection” of this consciousness in your mind, but consciousness itself is not dependent on the existence of yours or anyone else’s mind. This is the pure and absolute Consciousness. Its also pure and absolute Existence since its the only entity that exists and everything – you, others, the whole world, the whole universe – simply seems to appear in it making it the ground of all existence. Its also pure and absolute Bliss as nothing else exists that it would be in any form of conflict with.

This pure and absolute Existence-Consciousness-Bliss, which enlightened people say is also infinite and eternal, is what you and everything really is.

If you are an intelligent living being, the foremost thing to know in life is who or what you really are and then live life accordingly. An intellectual understanding of it is a good beginning but not the end. You need to resolve all doubts and get a firm conviction that what is being explained makes complete sense. No matter what your questions are, there are answers to all of them and the best answers come from within. This technique of Self-realization has been practiced successfully by people for thousands of years and is only going strong. All possible questions have been asked and answered in multiple ways. Once you get a firm conviction, you need to make it a living reality which is only possible through meticulous spiritual practice. The benefits of doing this are tremendous – both while you are on the journey as well as when you reach the goal. All miseries and sufferings in life pertain to the body-mind and the conflict that arises because of its separation from others. When you realize you are not the body-mind but pure and absolute Existence-Consciousness-Bliss, the only entity that really exists, and that is infinite and eternal, all miseries and sufferings will evaporate and you will reach a state of unlimited permanent bliss!

(This article was cross-posted from happinessjourney.net/post/153070581415/who-are-you-really)

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26 Aug

A Logical Perspective on God

People have many different perspectives on who or what God is. For some, God has a specific form, for some God has many forms, and for some God is formless. Some believe in multiple Gods and some in One. Some believe their notion of God alone to be correct and all else to be wrong, while some believe their notion of God to be inclusive of all other beliefs. And then there are some who think there is no such entity as God.

Among all these perspectives, the term “God” refers to a Higher Power or a Higher Reality than the world we live in. Some pray to the Higher Power in the hope of making things better for themselves in this world and/or beyond. Some have true unconditional love and devotion towards the Higher Reality as they believe its lot more pure and unchanging compared to anything else in this world and hence much more worthy of love. Some think this world is the only reality and don’t believe in any other Higher Reality.

People who fall in the last category are usually being rational/logical/intellectual about what they believe to be real. They only go by what science has to say about reality, and since science hasn’t proven the existence of a Higher Reality, they don’t believe in it. Before you congratulate yourself for being in this category, let me mention that those who have true unconditional love and devotion for God are much more peaceful and happy in life than those who don’t. I can vouch for this as I have personally experienced all these categories myself up-close. So the intellect could actually be blocking you from experiencing something really wonderful. As Mark Twain said: “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that it just ain’t so.”

Instead of letting the intellect be a blocker, it can be used as a tool to explore if the existence of a Higher Reality atleast makes logical sense. Lets see how it actually does:

Say you are taking a walk downtown amidst many shops, malls, etc. and the place is bustling with people, some of them with pets, and there is probably also a small park on the side. You marvel at the tremendous variety of apparel, art pieces, gadgets, devices, etc. on display, admire the architecture of the buildings, and maybe also notice the different types of vehicles moving about. You think to yourself how advanced human intelligence is to have created all these sophisticated things. And then you look at the different humans, animals, trees, plants, etc. that are way more sophisticated than the most advanced machinery ever created by human intelligence. Would you think that all of them were just created by chance without requiring any intelligent cause?

We take for granted a human-like intelligence to be the cause of even a simple piece of pottery, what to say of the magnificent array of galaxies, stars, planets, moons and other celestial objects spread across the entire universe. One may believe that all of these came into existence after a big explosion (as a popular science theory tells us), but it doesn’t take too deep a thinking to wonder if it really appeared just by chance out of nothingness. And even if it somehow did, how come all the “stuff” coming out of this explosion arranged itself so elegantly? One may argue that those are just the different fields, forces and other laws of nature in action. But why do these laws even exist in the first place? By chance? And then how come dead non-living matter suddenly became alive and started sustaining itself and producing more of its kind? Again by chance? And those single living cells just started evolving into complex organisms by chance too? And eventually, just by chance, we have human beings who are capable of looking back at the universe and ponder upon its and their own existence!?

If left to chance, each of the above events would have an extremely low probability of happening, and a long series of them occurring one after the other would be surely considered impossible. In fact, if such events can happen by chance, pretty much anything can happen, e.g. all the water on the planet might dry up instantly or a new moon might appear in the sky suddenly or you might start growing another head this moment or pretty much any such random thing that seems to be impossible. But such things don’t happen and the universe appears to work in a very systematic and lawful manner. All of these indicate the presence of an intelligent cause, making it a way more logical and sensible option than the absence of it. Having an intelligent cause in-turn points to the existence of a Higher Reality that we seem to be unable to perceive, understand or even imagine.

This would all be just plain theory if there weren’t countless people through the ages across different parts of the world who have actually experienced a Higher Reality. These people are not bluffing. A bluff would not last more than a few years or a few decades at max, but we still see majority of the world trusting various scriptures written many thousands of years ago. This is only because the Truths revealed in these scriptures have been repeatedly validated and re-validated over the centuries and millenniums through real experiences of innumerable people. Moreover, the teachings in these scriptures cannot have any underlying selfish motive as they do not benefit anyone else except the student.

Its true that the experiences people have had are very diverse, as is clear from the variety of descriptions of the Higher Reality across different religions and sects. The reason for this diversity is that the Higher Reality is vast (has to be if its the intelligent cause behind this entire universe and more) and the human mind is tiny. So, in most cases, the mind is only able to experience the Reality partially. Hence, people’s accounts of it vary depending on which aspect of Reality they personally experienced. Moreover, different minds have different temperaments and have an inclination towards a certain aspect of Reality, which also results in them having different experiences. Even if there are differences in people’s experiences, they are all inherently consistent. Upanishads, the ancient scriptures of India, are the most comprehensive account of the Higher Reality as they are based on the experiences of hundreds of realized sages and saints as compared to just one (which is the case in most other scriptures of the world). Here is an immaculate talk on the nature of the Higher Reality as per the Upanishads: Defining God

One of the reasons why intellectually-oriented people are put-off by the notion of a Higher Reality is because it usually gets portrayed as God(s) in superhuman-like forms located somewhere within or beyond the universe. Its important to note that these forms are much more effective than something formless in terms of vividly expressing the pure and perfect qualities pertaining to the Higher Reality. They help stimulate tremendous love and devotion within an individual, which is a proven path (called Bhakti Yoga) to directly experience the Higher Reality. But one doesn’t have to blindly believe in these forms as there is another path to directly know the Higher Reality completely based on intellect and knowledge (called Jnana Yoga). The talk I linked above is especially beneficial for this path.

You might be wondering what difference does the knowledge of a Higher Reality make in your life. Apart from the fact that your whole life and everything around you derives from that Higher Reality, here’s the ultimate bombshell answer straight from the Upanishads: That Thou Art (Tat Tvam Asi) – the Supreme Highest Reality is what you really are! You think you are a body-mind-intellect complex but you are gravely mistaken about your own reality. The search for the Higher Reality – which is both transcendent and immanent – is not about explaining the creation or working of the universe, neither is it about experiencing something externally, its about knowing who you truly are. You will eventually discover on this magnificent journey that you are not a living being trying to have a spiritual experience, but that you are an eternal spiritual “being” that seems to be undergoing a life experience. And its high time for you to realize your own true nature which is no less than Infinite Existence, Consciousness, Bliss. That alone can help you overcome the miseries and sufferings of life and bring unlimited peace and joy. It is the highest and the only real purpose of life – nothing else matters!

(This article was cross-posted from happinessjourney.net/post/149527488930/a-logical-perspective-on-god)

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01 Jul

Spirituality for Atheists

Lot of highly intelligent people in an intellectually-oriented field (like science, technology, engineering, etc.) tend to be atheists i.e. they don’t believe in the existence of God. This is primarily because their understanding of the term “God” is usually limited to some super-natural being(s) sitting in the heavens controlling the universe – as portrayed in many religions. Any person of reasonable intelligence might question the validity of such an entity without any proof, so their disbelief is quite understandable.

One huge mistake they commit though is to equate spirituality with religion. Spirituality is about discovering the absolute Truth or Reality that underlies everything and answering some of the most fundamental questions regarding life and existence, like who am I?, what is the purpose of life?, where did this whole universe come from?, how can I experience enduring and lasting happiness?, etc. Its very inquisitive and experiential in nature. Religion on the other hand is generally a belief system built upon spiritual truths and evolved in a way that makes it easier for the masses to practice. Spirituality serves as the foundation for many major religions in the world like Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, Jainism, etc. It usually starts with someone – like the great ancient saints of India, Vyasa, Buddha, Jesus, Sankara, Mahavir, etc. – discovering and experiencing the Reality through meticulous spiritual practices. They then, out of their unconditional love and compassion, share how others may also discover the Reality for themselves and experience unlimited peace and bliss that gets rid of all miseries and sufferings in life forever. Large number of people tend to follow the philosophy and teachings of these enlightened beings closely for some time and lot of them are able to realize the Truth. But as time passes, with the original teacher long gone, it turns into a religion of blind faith completely hiding, and sometimes even forgetting, its underlying spiritual core. And, since many people don’t dive deep enough to learn the spiritual basis of religion, they take religion to be baseless and stop believing in it and leave spirituality also behind in the process. What a terrible loss!

Spirituality is the science and technology of our internal world, the world of our mind (our thoughts, feelings, experiences, memories, intelligence, ego, desires, aversions, tendencies, etc.). Even if you are an atheist, you are surely looking for one and only one thing in life – happiness. If you think about it, everything that you ever do is so that you can feel happy. And happiness exists in one and only one place – the mind. Just like we use mainstream science and technology to better understand and manage the external material world, we need to use spiritual science and technology to systematically understand and manage the internal world of our mind. Without that, its like groping in the dark searching for happiness in the external world and quite often getting hit in the head with various miseries and sufferings in the process. Its quite a pathetic state to be in.

Another common mistake is to equate mind and brain. Brain is a part of the physical body, an organ, that enables the mind to operate. But the mind is something subtle. We may cut open the head and monitor the brain as deeply as we like but we will not be able to tell a single thought, feeling, experience, memory, etc. of the person. We will only be able to correlate activities of the mind with activities in the brain. Hence the science of brain doesn’t serve as a science of mind. The latter needs a very subjective approach which is what spirituality provides.

One might raise a question as to why spirituality and not psychology? Various reasons. Psychology is primarily focused on curing mental illness (like depression, stress, emotional imbalance, etc.) and not on improving the well-being of a normal mind. A new branch of psychology called positive psychology has started exploring that front but its still in its infancy, whereas spirituality has been developed and practiced over thousands of years by innumerable people with incredible results. Moreover, psychology, like any other science, tries to understand the mind in an objective manner whereas there is a lot going on in the mind that is highly subjective in nature which cannot be objectified.

Although there are many spiritual philosophies and most of them can be quite effective, the best I have found is Advaita Vedanta. Its one of the most rational and comprehensive spiritual philosophies. Even some of the cutting-edge science like quantum mechanics, para-psychology, etc. is getting more and more aligned with what Vedanta has already been saying for thousands of years.

Here are few excellent videos that I highly recommend you watch to learn more about Vedanta and Spirituality in general. They shall be worth every minute of your time!


Please don’t let your intellect block you from diving into the wonderful world of spirituality. Instead, use the intellect as a tool to analyze and manage your mind through proven processes, and lead a much happier and fulfilling life. Innumerable highly intelligent people have been doing it successfully over thousands of years all over the world and so can you. I wish you all my best!

(This article was cross-posted from happinessjourney.net/post/146773002410/spirituality-for-atheists)

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11 Jun

Science and Spirituality

There are some profoundly fundamental questions that humans have been pondering upon through the ages. These questions include: Where did all this – the whole world/universe – come from? Was there anything before all this came into existence or did all of it simply sprout out of nothing? Or is it all eternal without a beginning or an end? How did life begin amidst dead matter? What exactly is life? Why does it all even exist? and so on so forth.

Basically, all these questions revolve around the inherent curiosity within humans to know the absolute Truth or Reality underlying everything.

Both Science and Spirituality are geared towards getting to the bottom of it all i.e. to discover the absolute Reality. The key difference being that Science focuses on the external physical world i.e. the world external to our mind (physical body, physical objects, physical particles, physical universe, etc.), whereas Spirituality focuses on the internal world i.e. the world internal to our mind and, deeper within, our spirit.

Both are marvelous means in their own right. One big challenge Science faces though is being limited to physical matter/energy, as that’s the only thing its able to detect, monitor and experiment-with through the help of physical instruments and devices. But there is a whole different world within us – our thoughts, feelings, experiences, memories, intelligence, ego, desires, aversions, tendencies, etc. – that Science has absolutely no way of monitoring directly and objectively. There’s probably lot more going on inside our minds combined than in the whole physical universe! Mainstream Science tries to circumvent this limitation by assuming that everything can be reduced to physical matter/energy and can be explained in terms of particles, forces, etc. It also assumes that the mind and the consciousness we feel inside our head are nothing but an emergent phenomena of certain bio-electrical signals flowing through the neurons and certain chemical reactions occurring inside our brain cells, with absolutely no clue how physical matter that is mostly made-up of fat, protein, carbohydrate and water can pull off such a feat!

What if the absolute Reality is actually beyond physical matter/energy? There is already some scientific evidence of it. For instance, we have discovered that less than 10% of the total mass-energy constituting the whole universe is in the form of physical matter/energy. The rest 90%+ is something called dark matter/energy which is very different from the physical matter/energy we know of. Moreover, there have been numerous incidents of individuals experiencing non-local consciousness stretching beyond the limitations of their physical bodies. There have been thousands of scientific experiments establishing the validity of many such type of experiences and as a result Science is starting to open-up to the possibility that mind and consciousness are separate from physical matter/energy. The problem of figuring out the true nature of consciousness has been termed as the Hard Problem of Consciousness. You may check out some videos on these sites to get a better idea of where Science is with this investigation: http://www.opensciences.org/videos/consciousness-studies and http://www.scienceandnonduality.com/videos.

These are strong indicators that there is way more to Reality than just physical matter/energy and the limitations imposed by them. But do we have to just twiddle our thumbs and wait for Science to discover the Reality with no sense of whether it would ever be able to do so? Since Science has just started to scratch the surface of the non-physical domain, it could take many generations before its able to make any breakthrough. And there are high chances Science might not be able to get anywhere with this investigation as its quite implausible for it to go beyond the physical limitations imposed by nature.

So is there no way we can know the Reality during this life of ours? Thankfully, there is. Countless people throughout the history of humankind have already discovered the absolute Reality. Some great persons have even highlighted clear ways for others to get there too, and its possible to do so in this very life if one is sincere. Basically, this is already a solved problem! How did this miracle happen? Well, some very smart and able people had the ingenuity of looking for the Reality within their internal worlds instead of the external world, thinking that whatever the Reality is it must also be inside of them. Its also possible that they were not really seeking Reality but just looking for peace of mind and simply happened to stumble upon the Reality as they uncovered layers after layers of their mind through deep meditation and eventually transcended even the mind to discover and experience the underlying absolute Reality. And what they experienced was absolutely out of this world – completely beyond intellect and imagination – and it brought them supreme peace and bliss! So some of them, out of their unconditional love and compassion for other beings, shared with the world what they had discovered so that others could also experience it. This is the core of Spirituality.

So, Spirituality is like a fast-track that will get you to Reality much quicker than any other means. In fact it is the only known track as of now!

But why should one even care for Reality? Primarily because all the people who have ever experienced it, irrespective of what spiritual path they took to get there, say one thing in unison – it liberates you from all miseries and sufferings of life forever, and delivers you to a state of infinite eternal peace and bliss! And no matter who you are or what you are, you are surely looking for one and only one thing in life – happiness. If you think about it, everything that you ever do is so that you can feel happy. But how flickery this happiness usually is. After so much pain-staking effort does it come and then vanishes away so quickly. Spirituality is the solution to this problem. Its the holy grail that brings enduring happiness while you are on the journey and limitless ever-lasting happiness once you get to the destination!

Like Science, some of the spiritual paths are based on reason and involve lot of observation and experimentation, but just focused on the internal world instead of the external world. One such path is Advaita (Non-Dual) Vedanta that provides a very crisp understanding of the Reality. As Science is diving deeper, its getting more and more aligned with what Vedanta has already been saying for thousands of years! (I ll be writing a separate article on this topic)

Lot of people consider Spirituality to be superstition. But after understanding it better, it almost feels like many things Science tells us are superstitious as they are just based on plain theories and assumptions pulled out of some human’s intellect! The essence of Science is its openness. But rejecting something that countless people have experienced just because the limited human intellect is not able to grasp it is utter close-mindedness. I hope you don’t fall into that trap and give-up your freedom to explore the Reality for yourself. May the force be with you!

(This article was cross-posted from happinessjourney.net/post/143641274465/science-and-spirituality)

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04 Jun

Debugging the Mind

Its hard to find an unhappy baby, whereas its very easy to find unhappy adults. Something specific has to be done to make a baby unhappy. On the other hand, something specific has to be done to make an adult happy. Same thing happens to all of us as we grow from innocence to experience. Something affects the functioning of our mind over time causing all sorts of misery and suffering. Its important to debug these problems in order to lead a life of enduring peace, harmony and bliss.

These fundamental human problems are not new to the modern world. Mankind has been facing them for a very long time and a large number of intellectual and enlightened people have thoroughly analyzed, root-caused and solved these problems over thousands of years. All we need is to pay heed!

As per them, every source of unhappiness, every reason for misery and suffering, every cause of a negative emotion like anger, greed, lust, delusion, arrogance, jealousy, etc. – basically each and every problem in life boils down to five impurities (Kleshas) of the mind. These five impurities exist in every human mind in varying degrees and every affliction originates from one or more of them. They are present since birth and keep increasing as we grow older. That’s why even children are not the epitome of happiness. That entitlement is reserved only for those who are able to get rid of these impurities completely.

These five impurities are:

  • Avidya: Avidya is the ignorance of our true nature – the pure inner Self that is an infinite ocean of peace, harmony, bliss, freedom and knowledge. Its not an intellectual ignorance but an experiential ignorance, which means that only having an intellectual knowledge of our true nature does not remove the ignorance, we have to actually experience it. This ignorance is the root-cause of the other four impurities. Just imagine, if you are able to experience this eternal, pure, blissful Self, all problems of life will evaporate instantly!
  • Asmita: Asmita is egoism that gets developed by identifying our selves as the body and mind since we are ignorant of our true Self. The pure Self can never be bruised but the ego can be easily bruised causing misery. This false “I” soon expands to “my” and “mine” and forms various internal and external attachments like “my prestige”, “my title”, “my money”, “my family”, “my people”, “my house”, “my car”, “my property”, “my religion”, “my country”, etc. These attachments increase the chances of misery even more because when any of them is hurt, the false “I” hurts.
  • Raga: Raga is attraction or liking towards an external entity (person/object/situation) that is a source of pleasure for us. These likings evolve into desires and cravings as we constantly seek happiness from the outside world. And whenever its not fulfilled, we suffer.
  • Dvesa: Dvesa is repulsion or dislike towards an external entity (person/object/situation) that is a source of pain for us. These dislikes evolve into aversions and hatred as we constantly try to avoid things that bring us unhappiness. And whenever we encounter such a thing, we suffer.
  • Abhinivesa: Abhinivesa is clinging to life. Every human being, in fact every living creature, wants to continue to live forever. Even though we are very well aware that the body and mind have to perish one day, we still have a strong inclination to keep living. This results in a fear of death and hence misery from anything that could indicate death.


Take any problem in life and try to get to the bottom of it and you will arrive at one or more of these five impurities. E.g. Whenever you are angry, its either because something you want is not happening or something you don’t want is happening. Its all a play of likings, dislikes and egoism. Whenever you are anxious and worried, its because you are thinking too much whether something you want will happen or not or whether something you don’t want will happen. Again, a play of likings, dislikes and attachments. Whenever you feel jealous, its because someone else has something you want. Again, egoism and likings. Whenever you are afraid, its usually because of the fear of losing something you like or losing life itself. Whenever you are in physical pain, its because you are identifying yourself too much with the body. And so every affliction invariably originates from these impurities.

This is known as the philosophy of Kleshas. Most major Indian spiritual texts like Bhagavad Gita, Ashtavakra Gita, etc. as well as teachings of Gautama Buddha talk about it in one form or the other, but its best elaborated in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras.

These impurities can be removed by a meticulous process of purification involving austerity, self-discipline, self-study, contemplation and meditation. It can also be done through complete self-surrender to the Divinity. Patanjali calls this process Kriya Yoga (not to be mistaken by the Kriya Yoga popularized by Paramahansa Yogananda). This Kriya Yoga is a part of the overarching Raja Yoga.

We can notice results as soon as we start removing these impurities and life becomes increasingly more wonderful as we keep making progress. Along with working on these impurities, if we also keep filling our minds with a purity – love for all – we naturally start developing all the attributes of goodness (Sattvik attributes) listed in an earlier blog post. This process also helps with Self-realization or the experience of the pure inner Self which is the only way to completely annihilate Avidya – the ultimate root-cause of all impurities. And its all under our control as all the changes have to be brought within ourselves. We are not dependent on anyone or anything for it. But remember, its a marathon not a sprint! Happy Debugging!

(This article was cross-posted from happinessjourney.net/post/123120544220/debugging-the-mind)

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