Spiritual Ignorance – Vedanta Philosophy

May 13, 2008 by  
Filed under Self Help

Green Earth Movement

One will gasp in disbelief when one is told that various colors seen in this world of objects are actually non-existent. Every object is basically colorless but when it is exposed to solar rays these objects absorb certain colors from the rays and reject others. It is only on this basis that we see ‘colored’ objects. That color not absorbed by an object is sent back i.e. reflected. This reflected light enters our eye and thus we think that object to be of the reflected solar ray’s color. Plants in reality are not green in color since basically they are colorless. Yet they appear green because plants cannot absorb the green color of solar rays falling on them. Since this green color gets reflected it enters our eye which assumes that the plant is green in color. When the green unabsorbed color gets reflected it enters our eyes and thus the latter out of delusion says ‘the plant is green in color’. This illusory information is taken to be a die hard truth by us all. Bye and bye we keep proving to the world with various hypotheses that plants are green in color. If someone challenges these hypotheses he/she is mocked at and called a deluded fool. No one is willing to delve deep into the fact that our senses and mind are all the time giving illusory information from the absolute standpoint. It should be noted over here that no doubt the mind and senses are needed to carry out worldly transactions yet what we are trying to say is that such information cannot be taken as an absolute truth. They fail to accept that our mind and senses are deluding us by falling prey to the illusory wiles of Mother Nature (Prakriti). Over here the green color of plant is merely an example. This example is meant to show how our senses deceive us with reference to the colors and other qualities of various objects in the world. We say that our eyes, ears, mind, intellect etc is the ultimate proof. But if they are prone to get carried away by illusory information the very theory of direct proof becomes faulty.

According to us all black is darkest among all colors and that there is nothing like white color. Yet the reality is bang opposite to or above observations. Black color is perceived when no other color is experienced and an admixture of the 7 colors is white color. Darkness in reality can be called ‘just about nothing’ when it is perceived as blackness. Hence the state of no-thinking is experienced. Vaisheshik Darshan (Indian Philosophy) does not accept darkness to be material in nature. Other philosophers emphatically proclaim darkness to be a principle. Darkness absorbs all light rays in its womb. Thus nothing is experienced by us due to the resultant darkness.

Those objects that are incapable of absorbing any color appear white in color. All the unabsorbed colors get reflected from the object and enter our eyes. All these colors being an admixture appear white to our eyes. This is indeed an irony as to how our eyes get deluded. From the worldly transaction standpoint we cannot ignore our sense experiences but from the absolute standpoint our sense organs and mind are all the time giving us illusory information. The question torments us all as to how could we ignore modern scientific achievements like technology etc. Heaviness, lightness, darkness etc are definitely great puzzles. Darkness is sometimes very intense and elsewhere it is very little. All this depends on how much light is absorbed in a particular area. The proof that black color results when an object absorbs all colors lies in the fact that in daylight it becomes hotter with greater speed in comparison to objects of other hues.

Now the question arises as to where the 7 colors present in solar rays come from? The answer to this question becomes even stranger. The difference of the width of light waves gives an illusory effect called color. In reality the very concept of color is non-existent in the entire cosmos. What we see as color (red, blue etc) is in fact sheer illusion.

Light is nothing but electro magnetic waves. The width of each type of wave is different. Hence our intellect experiences their resultant effect variedly. These varied experiences give us illusory information of various colors. The 7 colors and their resultant colors due admixture is nothing but the experience of the intellect which is exposed to waves of varying widths. Principally colors have no absolute existence.

Our wonderment does not end here. The world of colors is gigantic and in this melee our identity is very small in stature. All else remains very much ignored. In an area of 1 inch the number of red waves present is 33,000. In 1 inch area green colored waves number to 16,000. In 1 inch infra red waves only 80 are present. As against this the widths of radio waves vary between 20 to 2000 miles. All this is with reference to excess width. If we deal with very small widths an example that comes to mind is light green colored waves. A 1 inch area holds 2 million of these waves. A 1 inch area holds more than 0.5 billion of X-ray waves and 220 arabs of Gamma rays. Despite this their movements are similar i.e. these different waves move at a speed of 186,000 miles/sec.

Instead of seeing the abovementioned light rays with scientific apparatus if our eyes had the capacity to see them with naked eyes one would be amazed that instead of the 7 colors perceived today we would be capable if visualizing 469 (67×7) other new colors. Today modern science has unearthed only 7 basic colors (VIBGYOR) which on mixing give other innumerable hues.

One gets a glimpse of the illusory nature of the concept called color when we see the red ball of sun shining in the early morning hours of the day. The sun in fact is colorless but during early morning hour it is not vertically up in the sky and is in fact diagonal. Hence its rays have to cover a greater distance in the Earth’s atmosphere. While traveling thus these rays come across a lot of dust particles which cannot absorb the color red. Thus by the time the rays reach our eyes the red reflected color enters them and we say that the ball of sun is red.

How our eyes and frail intellect fall a prey to illusion is proved via the concept of color. In other areas of life too our senses and intellect get deluded intensely. In a certain sense they have totally misled us as far as life’s nature and goal is concerned. They wrongly tell us that material objects are the ultimate reality and that attaining them is the sole goal of life. They also falsely induce us to accept that the vicious cycle of transitory pleasures and pain are a part and parcel of life and that there is no cure in sight. If only one could attain divine wisdom i.e. God/Self Realization could one realize that this world of material objects is one long painful dream and hence illusory. True bliss is attained only via divine wisdom and that too for eternity.

Indian Vedanta Philosophy calls this world Maya (illusion from the absolute standpoint). It says that this world is a long painful dream. This does not however mean that the objects perceived and used by us have no existence at all. In the present tense these objects very much do exist but the fact is that they were not there in the past and that they will not exist in future. If this were not the case why would the Theory of Karma (actions) be valid? What need would there be of performing meritorious deeds (Punya) and enduring hardships while performing penance? What then would be the difference between a man working hard daily and another remaining idle and indolent? Why would one aspire to imbibe great ideals and human values in life? Why would one abstain from and fear illegal and unwholesome acts?

According to Vedanta Philosophy Maya means that which is not real principally. The world appears real in a superficial/relative sense but it is non-existent from the absolute standpoint. The question asked is whether the material world perceived by us all is in fact real from the absolute standpoint? The answer is that whatever we perceive with our 5 sense organs is not exactly as it appears to us. Our intellect collects information based on the directives given by our sense organs. But the problem is that time and again our senses fall prey to illusion and hence the information gathered by our intellect is not free from error.

When we consume alcohol, drugs etc our inner intoxicated state does not allow an apt contact between the sense organs and our brain. The result being that our senses say one thing and our intellect interprets information erroneously. An intoxicated state does not allow a person to think, talk, view things etc aptly. There are other more intense intoxicants which induce our brains to become that much more deluded (example cocaine, LSD etc).

Ordinarily even in our daily lives we experience certain situations etc which cannot be called real from the absolute standpoint. Are the scenes perceived on the movie screen absolutely true? Individual static pictures move so speedily one after another that our eyes falsely visualize them as ‘moving’. That is we see actors walking, talking, running etc. The speech of actors heard by us actually comes from another audio gadget. It is the light from the projector that helps us see various scenes on the movie screen. Thus movies too are illusory from the absolute standpoint.

A moviegoer least realizes that he has spent 3 hours in a maze of cinema technology. All his emotional experiences like sorrow, joy etc experienced while seeing a movie are nothing short of an illusion. There was no real event experienced in a movie theatre. It was only the movie projector that created illusory scenes on the screen which made people cry, laugh etc. The moviegoer falsely thinks these scenes to be real events and hence gives vent to his/her emotions. Maya is nothing but the sense organs falling prey to illusory situations and looking upon them as real in an absolute manner. From a gross standpoint Maya is ‘real’. If this were not the case how could movie projectors and hence scientific technology induce emotional and other experiences in the bosoms of people using them? If one delves deeper on this subject movies can be called a mesh of illusion due to the efficiency of technology and the fact that our eyes are as a result unable to pinpoint this illusory effect of technology (movie projector). Both these aspects are right in their own way. The fact that this material world is very much tangible its events too are very vividly experienced by us. Hence at the gross level these events appear real but a deeper analysis tells us that relatively this material world and its events are real but certainly not from the absolute standpoint. In fact from the absolute standpoint this world and its events are illusory like a dream.

It is very clear that material objects are but the manifestation of various permutations and combinations of varieties of molecules. Every atom is moving speedily. In this manner all atoms of various objects are moving at amazing speeds. Despite this our naked eyes fail to perceive this movement and instead say that all objects are inert and motionless. The same thing happens to our planet Earth. 1) Earth rotates on its axis very speedily. 2) It revolves around the sun. 3) Along with the solar system it circumambulates the super sun. 4) While moving thus its movement is akin to a rotating top which sways on either side. 5) While moving in the cosmos it goes far away from its previous position in inter stellar space. Thus the Earth moves in 5 ways as mentioned above. This ‘ecstatic dance’ of Earth is not experienced by us at all and we erroneously believe that right from our birth to death our planet has remained static in its appointed place in inter stellar space. It is only when our intellect starts deeply analyzing the ‘direct proof’ given by our sense organs that it will realize that in the absolute sense they are misleading us totally. This ‘direct proof’ is only relatively true that helps us carry out our worldly transactions but from the absolute standpoint it is totally null and void. In Vedanata Philosophy this power of illusion which induces our senses, mind and intellect to experience the material world as real from the absolute standpoint is called Maya. Maya means existence of the world only in the ‘now’ or present tense and hence the world did not exist in the past and will not do so in future. This is like a dream which appears true temporarily but disappears the moment you wake up. Our daily dreams are for a few hours only but the dream of Maya lasts for eons together. It is only when spiritual wisdom dawns in our heart can this terrible dream of Maya end.

The reflections of the sun and moon can be seen in ponds, rivers etc. and it appears as though their waters are dazzling with light. Their reflection falls on every rising wave and hence we erroneously see many moons and suns dancing on each wave. A man traveling in a train wrongly thinks that he is seated motionlessly and that the trees, stars in the sky etc perceived by him outside the moving train are moving speedily in various directions. The question to be answered is that are all these experiences true or illusory?

Many of us get dreams at night. The events seen in a dream seem very real while the dream lasts. At that time we feel joyful, sorrowful etc. While dreaming we sometimes yell etc also. But as soon as you wake up you realize that all the events seen in the dream are actually non-existent. In the dream it was our subconscious mind that weaved various movie-like events which appeared very vivid while the dream lasted. Our subconscious mind and intellect was fooled into thinking that the dream events were tangible and real.

If you trek in a dark forest the bushes appear to be ghosts. A rope seen in very dim light appears to be a snake. A mirage in a dessert gives an appearance of a water pond from a distance. All these vivid experiences are far from what they appear to be. Gigantic air planes flying very high up in the sky look like tiny birds from the ground level. There are stars far away in inter stellar space which are n-times larger than planet Earth and more brilliant than the sun. Despite this we denizens of Earth perceive these stars to be like a small flame lamp. The question that needs to be answered seriously is whether all the above experiences of our naked eyes are as real as it appears to be? The same question arises with reference to other sense organs apart from the eyes. We have to perforce conclude that our sense organs have serious limitations while interpreting external worldly events and that there are many instances as mentioned above where the information gathered by them is nothing short of an illusion. When someone gets fever in the winter season he/she experiences heat and in summer he/she experiences cold. When one feels nauseous even a delicious cake appears bitter. A bout of common cold makes us experience foul smell all round us. An attack of jaundice makes our eyes yellowish and objects perceived by the eyes appear yellow in hue. The question asked is that are all these ‘tangible experiences’ true in the ultimate sense?

The taste of an object is not exactly as it seems to be. For example neem leaves seem bitter to a healthy human being but for a camel it is tasty food. The reason why one particular food item tastes differently to animals, birds etc of various species is that the overall designing of their taste buds differ. When food enters our mouth these taste buds experience a particular reaction depending on its anatomical structure and this information is passed on to the brain. The brain then categorizes the taste as bitter, sweet etc. The actual chemical nature of the food eaten is very much different from the taste experienced by taste buds of various creatures of the world.

Anatomists tell us that the body is made up of billions of cells. Amongst these many die and many more are produced. This trend goes on continuously and time and again old cells die which are then replaced by new cells. In this manner our bodies are transformed again and again. Older cells are destroyed and newer ones replace them. One could say that there is a permanent ‘graveyard’ in our body since old cells die continuously and that there is a permanent ‘womb’ because new cells are generated to replace dead cells. Despite this, what is amazing is that none of us are aware of these tremendous activities taking place in our own bodies on a continuous basis. Our 5 senses on whom we depend cent percent for our daily life’s transactions not only have no power to change external circumstances but that they fail miserably in even giving us information of our own inner bodily activities. Thus how can we emphatically say that our 5 senses give us ‘direct proof’ of various events taking place in the external world? Our intellect too is incapable of telling us whether our body is suffering from a particular disease or not. For this we have to take external help from the medical fraternity to diagnose our illnesses. Thus if our own intellect cannot inform us about our own inner bodily state how can one be so sure that its analysis of external worldly events would be error free?

Knowledge/wisdom is the most vital aspect of human lives. Hence it has to be apt and error free. If our consciousness gives us knowledge that is illusory and error prone know for sure that this consciousness has been veiled by the darkness of ignorance (Ajnana). If this veil of ignorance is not lifted and destroyed our consciousness is bound to lead us astray in this world of illusion not for merely one life but for innumerous lives put together. This veil of ignorance is called Maya in Vedanta Philosophy which is the root cause of strife and pain undergone by spiritually ignorant human beings. Maya is not some external object or event of sorrow in the external world. Maya is the deluded state of our individual minds. If we succeed individually in lifting this veil of ignorance i.e. Maya our bondage to the material world will be cut asunder eternally. Salvation which is the eternal limitless fount of spiritual bliss (Ananda) can be attained by just about anyone and everyone.