The Vedanta-Sutra in its first verse, “Athato Brahma-jijnasa,” i.e. “Now, therefore, one should inquire into the nature of Brahma, the Ultimate Truth or God”; must be the nature of the human soul with the direction of the mind, the senses and the intelligence to inquire about the nature of the Ultimate Reality of the Absolute Truth. The Absolute Truth is the source of everything, from whom the creation, sustenance and destruction of the manifested universes arise, as confirmed by the first sloka of Srimad Bhagavatam, which is an epic philosophical and literary classic covering a wide field of knowledge such as cosmology, physical sciences, biological sciences, social sciences, political sciences, art and culture, ethics, and above all the complete science of God. Religious knowledge or spiritual wisdom of the soul can explore both the underlying secrets of the visible and the invisible worlds.
According to the Vedanta, the human being is said to have four defects of the senses, even in the cases of the genius. They are : (i) “Illusion”, the best example of a man under illusion is that of a mirage seen in the desert; (ii) “mistake”, for example, a rope is sometimes mistaken for a snake, (iii) “limitation”, the example may be, we cannot hear sounds below 20 Hz (infrasonic) and above ultrasonic i.e. above 20,000 Hz; and (iv) “cheat”, for example, when our senses are overcome by means of pride (false ego), lusty desire and arrogance, our propensity to cheat is predominant. It is, therefore, that there may be always limitation in any scientific knowledge thereby the knowledge of the human being may not be sufficient in perceiving God. Such is the opinion of scientists whose versions will be found in the following paras. But, on the other hand, through the proclamation of the timeless message of the Vedas, God can be understood. Vedanta describes that the scriptures can give the substantial knowledge of God or the revealed knowledge through the parampara process (top-down process).
In my earlier article viz “Realization of the Supreme Personality of Godhead” in this column, the three aspects of God realization were discussed. To briefly mention here, such realization of God in three aspects as explained in the Bhagavata Purana or Srimad-Bhagavatam, the ancient Vedic scriptures are: the non-dual substance Brahman (the attributeless Absolute), Paramatma (the indwelling Supersoul) or Bhagavan (the Supreme Lord Himself). Here, it is relevant to quote Einstein who is said to have realized the impersonal aspect of God. His remark is, “I believe in mystery and, frankly, I sometimes face the mystery with great fear. In other words, I think there are many things in the universe that we cannot perceive or penetrate and that also we experience some of the most beautiful things in life in only a very primitive form. Only in relation to these mysteries do I consider myself to be a religious man. But I sense these things deeply… the most beautiful and most profound religious emotion that we can experience is the sensation of the mystical. And this mysticality is the power of all true science. In essence, my religion consists of a humble admiration for the illimitable superior spirit that reveals itself in the slight details that we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble minds. That deeply emotional conviction of the presence of a superior reasoning power which is revealed in the comprehensible universe forms my idea of God.” Now, as per this article, realization of Bhagavan is the realization of the Supreme Personality aspect of God, i.e. the aspect of God realization.
According to Vedanta, God has three kinds of internal potency or energy, in full, viz the existential potency, the cognitive potency and the pleasure potency. Whereas, the living beings, the parts and parcels of God are also endowed with these potencies in different degrees according to the degree of realization of God by those sincere devotees, the eternal servants of God, nay they are the servants of the servants of God.
The real identity of a human being is the identity as the servant of God, said by Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
The basic differences between God and His eternal parts and parcels viz. the living beings (Gita 15.7) is that the Ultimate Reality includes four principles viz. the Supreme God Himself, His internal energy, His marginal energy and His external energy.
God’s manifestations or avataras in three expansions of Maha-Visnu, Garbho-dakasayi Vishnu, and Ksirodakasayi Vishnu were also briefly discussed in my previous article in this column. Mahavisnu is the source of all physical universes and Garbhodakasayi Vishnu enters in each universe, and Ksirodakasayi Vishnu enters into each living being and atom as Supersoul (paramatma) and guides every living being starting from micro organisms to human beings to demigods. In this way the whole material world is run and maintained. This is the Vedanta, an ancient spiritual science of India, and the study of Vedanta is indeed beyond atoms and molecules as confirmed by the transcendentalists and the scientists too. Thus, it is said that according to the Big Vision of the Supreme Lord as against Big Bang theory, the cosmic creation and dissolution go on periodically.
According to the ancient Vedic Culture, religious principles are practiced by the conditioned souls in order to get their conscious spiritual particles (or spiriton coined by Dr. TD Singh) liberated from the stage of materialism or false conception of human form of life. For this there are nine devotional activities known as (in Sanskrit) nava-vidha bhakti. These are: “hearing” the pastimes of the Supreme Lord, “chanting” the holy names of God, particularly the mahamantra; “remembering” the Supreme Lord; “serving” the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord; “offering worship”, “offering prayers”, “becoming the servant”, “becoming the friend” and “surrendering everything to the Lord”. Such devotional science or bhakti yoga may be any one of the nine processes. One form of yoga can attain the highest goal of life in love of God eternally. One who understands the personal aspect of God is one who learns Bhakti yoga (any one of the nine devotional activities). This is the Vaishnava scientific and theological culture of India, practiced by the devotees of the Lord.
Perceiving God: Quotes on the philosophy of worshiping God by some prominent scientists starting from 14th century onwards as given below reflect their scientific experiences regarding as how they perceive God.
Founding father of modern physics Max Planck: “For religion, God is at the beginning; for science, God is at the end.”
Nicholas Copernicus (1473-1543) said, “The universe has been brought for us by a supremely good and orderly Creator.” Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) believed that there is immortal Creator: “I have endeavored to gain for human reason, aided by geometrical calculation, an insight into His way of creation; may the Creator of the heavens themselves, the father of all reason, to whom our mortal senses owe their existence, may He who is Himself immortal… keep me in His grace and guard me from reporting anything about His work which cannot be justified before His magnificence or which may misguide our powers of reason, and may He cause us to aspire to the perfection of His works of creation by the dedication of our lives….”
The great scientist Isaac Newton (1642-1727) gave the view that God is an intelligent and powerful Person, who is, as per Vedantic philosophy full of six opulences viz. all beauty, all fame, all knowledge, all strength, all wealth and all renunciation, and no one is equal to or greater than Him.
Quote: “This most beautiful system of the sun, planet and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being.”
Michael Faraday (1791-1867): “We ought to value the privilege of knowing God’s truth far beyond anything we can have in this world.”
James Clerk Maxwell was the great scientist who on the basic philosophy of Vedanta has realized God as follows “Almighty God, who has created man in Thine own image, and made him a living soul that he might seek after Thee, and have dominion over Thy creatures, teach us to study the works of Thy hands, that we may subdue the earth to our use, and strengthen the reason for Thy service, so to receive Thy blessed Word, that we may believe on Him who Thou has sent, to give us the knowledge of salvation and the remission of the sins.”
The greatest scientist Albert Einstein (1879-1955) a believer in Brahman, the impersonal aspect of God expressed, “My religion consists of a humble admiration for this illimitable superior spirit that reveals itself in the slight details that we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble minds. That deeply emotional conviction of the presence of a superior reasoning power which is revealed in the comprehensible universe forms my idea of God.”
Max Born, the prominent physicist (1882-1970) appreciated the greatness of the Creator who created these universes. He said, “I saw in it (the atom) the key to the deepest secret nature, and it revealed to me the greatness of the creation and the Creator.”
The scientist, Srinivasa A Ramanujan (1887-1920): “An equation for me has no meaning, unless it represents a thought of God.” The genius Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948): “Those who meditate on the Bhagavad-Gita will derive fresh joy and new meanings from it every day. I find a solace in the Bhagavad Gita that I miss even in the Sermon on the Mount. When disappointment stares me in the face and all alone I see not one ray of light, I go back to the Bhagavad Gita. I find a verse here and a verse there and I immediately begin to smile in the midst of overwhelming tragedies—and my life has been full of external tragedies—and if they have no visible, no indelible scar on me, I owe it all to the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita. [The famous Gitasastra is an epitome of the essentials of the whole Vedic teaching. A knowledge of its teaching leads to the realization of all human aspirations.]
Werner Heisenberg (1901-1976) expressed his view—“There is a higher power, not influenced by our wishes, which finally decides and judges.”
According to Charles H Townes, the Nobel laureate in physics, the inventor of Laser and Maser (1964), “God is very personal and there is continuous interaction between God and this universe especially with us personally. It is extremely important.”
Quote from—“God is a Person—edited by Dr. TD Singh (His Holiness Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami).
The following pages present some of the extracts of the dialogues on Science and Spirituality between Charles H Townes and Dr. TD Singh, who was an international director of the Bhaktivedanta Institute, Kolkata, and who visited the Nobel laureate’s office at the University of California, Berkeley, USA. Dr. TD Singh was a scientist with a doctorate in Physical Organic Chemistry from the University of California, Irvine and he was also a spiritualist having studied Vedantic theology and a pioneer in advancing dialogue between science and religion for more than 30 years.
Both Dr. TD Singh (TDS) and Charles H Townes (CHT) had dialogues regarding various conceptions of God as the readers will find in their science and religion dialogues. So, on the question of understanding of God, CHT said that there must be some spiritual force that has planned this universe and is affecting us, and it is very important to him. He continued and said, this universe is very special and remarkable, and highly improbable that its creation is random. What we can call God planned the universe and the laws of physics. People who do not want to believe in a spiritual being might say, “The only explanation is that we agree that it is highly improbable, but maybe there is an infinite number of universes, all having different laws of physics, and the only one that happened to turn out right is this one. Since this is the only one that turned out right, that is the reason we are here.” CHT believed that this logic is just imagination since we don’t know of these universes and we cannot do any scientific testing to find out if they are there. He also expressed that why is it that the laws of physics would change from one universe to another? We don’t know what makes the laws of physics the way they are—it is a great puzzle.
Maybe the simplest concept is that this was all planned by a superior intelligence somehow. However, one can make other postulates such as the existence of an infinite number of universes, or that somehow the laws of physics have to be the way they are, although we don’t know they have to be that way.
DTS reacted that according to Vedanta—the Hindu tradition—there are three aspects of God: Brahman, or the impersonal all-pervading aspect. Then, Paramatma, which is translated as the Supersoul, and the third aspect, is known as Bhagavan, or the Supreme Personality of Godhead. These were already discussed in the previous paras. DTS then asked CHT to comment on that Vedanta’s. CHT remarked that God is everything. It is very difficult for us to define God. He answered, ‘yes’ when asked whether some spiritual being is guiding us.
There are many things we human beings don’t understand. There are forces in nature and within our universe that we do not understand. TDS then remarked that the true spirit of Science is the search for the truth and quoted Karl Pribam, “Science is spiritual.” CHT also said, science is not necessarily materialistic. TDS’s view is, “It would be very beneficial to incorporate principles like the role of God in scientific research, especially with the study of life and its origin. He referred to the concept of the chemical evolutionists’ claim of life’s origin i.e., the life or a living being is a product of chemical reactions.
But this conception still remains as an idea only, and this idea could certainly be wrong, and a divine mechanism could only be a more realistic model. The seed of life, or to be more precise, life itself, exists as a fundamental spiritual particle. As an example, when the sperm cell of the father in which life is already present interacts and combines with the egg from the mother, the bodily form of a life particle develops. So, from the very beginning, an animated physical being grows when the life particle is present and not the other way around that the body has developed first and life enters later on. So, applying the argument of the Vedantic conception of creation, life would have to be present from the beginning. Thus, TDS strongly pleads that, the Vedantic conception holds that from the beginning of the existence of the universe, not just the earth, life as a fundamental spiritual particle has existed along with the fundamental material elements and has been integral to the development of the various bodily forms that we know of today.
CHT gave his view that from the traditional scientific viewpoint there cannot be any idea what the probability of life is. It can be pretty sure that it happened once on earth, because all are related. The Earth is a very favorable place for life to form, but it formed only once. We don’t know how it started. There are many puzzles. The idea of consciousness is strange—molecules are of materialistic things. Then, what is consciousness? There may be other forces involved inside of what our sciences presently know.
TDS supplemented that there are spiritual forces. CHT said that in physics there are more and more unknown things and most of the matter in the universe must be there, which they can’t see. They can see and detect only five per cent of the matter in the universe. They don’t know what the rest is. They are only trying hard to understand what the rest is. Science is an effort to understand how the universe works. He said that scientists must accept that they must recognize that there is much they don’t understand.
TDS’s view is that if life comes about only once and the conditions were rightly formed from the beginning and life is viewed as a spiritual force or other forces that was always present, then this could be in harmony with theistic conception—God as the source of both—the material energy, or force, and life.
Here, CHT agreed that it certainly corresponds with the theistic interpretation and that is quite correct. He believes that there is no long-range question more important than the purpose and meaning of our lives and of the universe. He continued, “What are we all about? Why are we here? What are we supposed to do? What is our life like? What does it mean? And so on. These are the most important questions, I think. If we understand the answers to these questions, they will determine very much what we must do, what are we doing and why and how we should do it – What is it all about? What is the purpose? Why is the universe here? Why are we here? The common man’s view is that these are all very basic questions that religion attempts to answer. My (CHT) own view is that God has formed this universe and given us free will to be somewhat like Him, have some of His attributes, to help others and to help humanity and this universe grow – to hopefully improve and increase, and come close to God.”
Charles H Townes further continued, “If we see the structure of the universe as having really remarkable characteristics, it seems to suggest that there is a purpose. If there is a purpose…. if we understand the structure and how it works very well, then that may give us some hints as to the purpose of the universe. If we understand the purpose, then that should probably say how it is structured. Those two must come close together, and this is why I say that science and religion are really quite parallel. They must converge… and if we understand one very well, then hopefully we can understand the other better.”
Dr TD Singh supplemented that Max Born once stated that from the study of the structure of the atoms he could appreciate the existence of a Creator—God.
Here, Charles Townes again gave his view, “I don’t think people recognize how much we use instincts in science. We use assumptions, or we might call those postulates, which are really identical to faith… the postulates are simply faith. And faith in science is important. Faith in religion is important… We have this faith from that, we make conclusions. Both science and religion have this characteristic.” But, Godel’s theorem is: the postulates can never be proved as self-consistent. Meaning is, the postulates may be incorrect, but they assure, they are self-consistent.
Then, TDS quoted William Philips, the Nobel laureate (1997) in his pioneering works on laser—cooled atoms, “Einstein’s God, who is really just like laws of nature, is not for me. I am strongly of the conviction that God is a person, and that is the foundation of my faith… I would like to thank God because He has given us this universe and He has engaged us to study His laws.”
CHT also said that God is very personal. There is continuous interaction between God and this universe, especially with us personally. That is very important to our lives.
Dr TD Singh was of the view that the Hindu Vedantic tradition is the highest aspect of God realization. There is of course, the impersonal aspect also. There may be a comparison between the personal realization and the impersonal aspect. The President of USA is sitting in the White House, but his power or energy is spread all over the country. Energy is the impersonal aspect, but the person who is sitting there and exists is the source of power and energy.
CHT said, God is everywhere. TDS remarked that the major religions are in harmony except Buddhism. Buddhism does not have any conception of either the Soul or God. CHT also said that God is recognized as having a very strong personal effect in the Jewish and Christian religions. CHT said he believes this.
Both the scientists viz. Charles H Townes and Dr. TD Singh have the same opinion that there must be interactive and back-and-forth discussions between scientists and theologians, and scientific and religious people.
After their interaction as discussed in the aforementioned paras, TDS initiated a different aspect about the science of happiness, which is called ananda (blissful). By the blessings of the Lord one is optimistic and enthusiastic… happiness is close to the personal conception of God. Happiness plays a very important role in the search for meaning and purpose.
According to CHT, one should live in accordance with God’s will, and that will bring happiness. One should do worthwhile things—helping people out, helping humanity, live in God’s world with His purposes. These, he believes, will bring happiness. TDS supplemented that happiness is close to the personal conception of God.
To conclude Charles H Townes, a scientist, Nobel laureate, physicist and Templeton laureate—gave his view—“More and more scientists realize that this universe is very, very unusual. Science such as physics, astronomy, and biology are most likely to give us additional insight, and understanding. Perhaps this will improve our understanding of the function of the brain. And free will—how in the world do we have free will? Free will is contrary to our scientific laws at the moment. We think we have free will. And what is this person? Where is this person? What is it? How does the brain work?
The readers of this article will certainly be inspired by the words of wisdom of Charles H Townes.
(The references of this article is, “God is a Person”—Reflections of two Nobel laureates viz Charles H Townes, inventor of Laser and Maser and William D Phillips, Pioneer of Laser Cooling of Atoms. Next article will be on the Dialogue between William D Phillips and Dr TD Singh, a scientist and spiritualist, and also a pioneer in advancing dialogue between science and religion).
*The article is written by Radhamohan Das
(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)Number of Views :3144
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