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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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)