Nothing is gained by thinking only of your self. (false self)
Everything is gained by thinking only of your Self. (true Self)
A Theory Of Everything (Or Is It Nothing?)
1. Introduction April, 2015, Updated August 2015
a. Stephen Hawking - Earlier this year, my wife Yaani and I went to see a remarkable movie, as had many of you, “The Theory of Everything”. The movie chronicled the life of the brilliant professor of theoretical physics and mathematics at Cambridge University, Stephen Hawking, who is still very much alive some 50 years after he was supposed to die from his debilitating illness. He's now in his seventies, has three kids and some grand kids and two marriages. All these past 50 years or so, he has been without any control of his extrinsic musculature anywhere in his body, has been totally wheel-chair ridden and able to communicate only, although quite magically, through a synthesized electronic device. And, amazingly, with a great sense of humor, he is able to keep doing original cutting-edge physics, on a blackboard, which, I take it, is wholly within his head.
b. Unified Force Field - Hawking and an international band of cosmologists now believe that they have come up with the holy grail that evaded Einstein for over thirty years, which was to mathematically combine the four basic forces shaping the universe, the gravitational, the electro-magnetic, the nuclear strong force, and the nuclear weak force. Einstein never succeeded in coming up with a ‘unified field theory'. But using a combined quantum/relativistic formulation of gravity, including 'inflation', super-symmetry, and string theory, a group of world-wide theoretical physicists including Hawking, believe they have managed the job decades later, and they now call their brilliant achievement the ‘Theory of Everything'; hence the name of the popular movie mentioned above. (Their physics formulation is called ‘M Theory’ and descriptions of it can be found on Wikipedia and various YouTube postings.) Before I express my opinions on this, I would like to say a few words here about myself that relates to the subject. I have a background in engineering and physics, having at different times been a ballistic missile designer and a university science professor. But I’ve also been deeply immersed for nearly fifty years in the eastern teachings of the non-dual Advaita Vedanta, with its unambiguous view of ultimate Reality.
c. The Neglected Field - What I will show in what follows, is that theoretical physicists, in their careful avoidance of spiritual and religious themes, have totally ignored to account for the single most important factor, which is the eternally-unchanging, energizing field in which everything is embedded, and on which any concept of the universe must be based. They have ignored what in Sanskrit is called the SatChitAnanda, which makes up the basis of all that is. (SatChitAnanda is also known as Brahman or Atma, as well as other terms such as the ‘Supreme Ultimate’. These all speak of the same one true Reality, seen from different perspectives.) In the absence of the empowering factor of SatChitAnanda, the observed universe with its complex structure and history could not exist. The SatChitAnanda field is present and active now, whether we know it or not; but when we consciously take it into account, the world as we know it and our place in the greater scheme of things, appears very different and much more cheery. For then a true theory of everything emerges, in which the mind and heart of man plays a much more important role than the physics of inchoate matter.
2. SatChitAnanda – A Totally Different View of Reality
a. What is SatChitAnanda? - To begin with, I want to point out that SatChitAnanda is not the Creator-God of the Judeo/Christian belief, nor is it the Allah of the Muslim belief, nor is it some aspect of the Buddhist belief. SatChitAnanda is not related to any religious belief. It is not an objective entity that we can study or exalt to super-human status and pray to. Nor is it something arcane, abstruse, esoteric, unreachable. Quite to the contrary. It is totally ubiquitous and common. It is the underlying basis of whatever is, because it is the fundamental essence of what you yourself are. Since SatChitAnanda is the inherent, intrinsic foundation of who you are, then whatever you touch, whatever you see, whatever you think, will necessarily be painted by either the unseen brush of SatChitAnanda within you or by what has been imposed by maya (illusion) to cover, supplant and suppress the knowledge of SatChitAnanda in your mind. So, although SatChitAnanda is always natively present in you as your true immortal Self and can never be expunged from you, it can be hidden and overriden with a false reality which takes the form of the illusory world we all believe ourselves to be in as separate individual beings, with no hint of the SatChitAnanda's presence within us. But parenthetically, it is SatChitAnanda, our true Reality, whether known or not, that provides all the energy for the illusion of world and separate selves to appear in our deluded minds. Much more will be said on this subject further on in this discussion, but for now I want to point out that SatChitAnanda is the one Reality and absolutely nothing can exist without it. Because it is present in you as you, SatChitAnanda will be present everywhere that you believe yourself to be. This is the radical discovery being presented here: Nothing can appear to be anywhere outside of you that isn't first already within you. Therefore whatever is being perceived by you had to have been projected there by you, or have otherwise come from you. From that it follows that to properly study the universe you need to study the man. Being one with the SatChitAnanda, it is you, the immortal, eternal 'real you' that determines the ground of all being, the very isness of all that is, the one incomparable, indivisible, background field that provides sentience to all beings and energizes all apparent activity. As such you are wholly beyond time, space and situation, and yet you are inclusive of everything in time and space that can be perceived, and without exception everything that can be thought of. SatChitAnanda cannot be directly perceived by your gross senses; but, nevertheless, it can be known, not in the usual way of perception or analysis, but intuitively, as we’ll see further on.
b. Take Everything Away And Still It Is There - When we remove whatever is divisible, changeable, time-dependent or position-dependent, anything that appears or disappears, anything that is individually identifiable, anything that is remembered from the past or expected in the future, anything that can be thought of or has not yet been thought of… when all this is removed, then what is left is the SatChitAnanda. In other words, when there is nothing left, when everything inside and outside perceivable or conceivable by you is gone, your world, your body, your mind, your knowledge, your history, your identity, your self-awareness... all totally gone... in that apparent emptiness and absence there still remains a permanent, subjective, subtle, undisturbable and incorruptible awareness, the eternally existing 'I' beingness, which is you; and although it can be covered and hidden from your awareness, in Reality it can never be reduced. That is the unchanging field of SatChitAnanda.
c. Subject Not Object - The key factor about SatChitAnada is that it is purely subjective. It is the ‘I am’ of being (Sat). It is the ‘I’ that is aware (Chit). It is the ‘I’ that delights in itself, independent of anything in its field of awareness (Ananda). Being the subject it is never an object. In other words, it is not an entity to be studied and known, nor is it something that can be lost, like your keys or your smart phone or your health or your memory, and then be searched for and perhaps newly found or acquired. It is just ‘I’, the true ‘I’, without any reference to anything else or another. It is not a something that is aware of itself, it just is itself being itself. As subject it is always center stage and the source of all awareness. It cannot be destroyed or blown away, or changed. However, it can be hidden deep within layers of occluding superstructure of make-belief, covered by a seemingly impenetrable fog bank, somewhat like a nuclear winter that seems to have permanently extinguished the sun. Yet, even then, the sun of SatChitAnada is not in any way affected. It is always present and ready to shine forth and reveal itself. At that moment of revelation its powerful presence is realized along with the realization that it has always been there.
d. Equivalence of Brahman, SatchitAnanda, Atma - From the relative viewpoint of the worldly perspective, Brahman, the eternal macrocosm, is spoken of as SatChitAnanda. Just as surely, Brahman is also the microcosm, the one eternal Self. As such it is known as Atma. As has already been indicated, the Sat of SatChitAnanda refers to pure being, Chit refers to pure consciousness or awareness, and Ananda refers to pure joy, love, delight. The terms ‘Brahman’, ‘Sat’, ‘Chit’, ‘Ananda’, ‘Atma’, ‘Self, 'real you', all mean exactly the same. They are eternal, unchanging, subtle, subjective and independent of time or space. They are one, the one Reality. Behind your worldly identity of name and form, and the many characteristics, physical, mental, emotional, subtle and biographical, by which you define the ‘I’ that you use (and unknowingly misuse) to represent yourself… right behind that personal ‘I’, empowering it, is the true ‘I’, the Atma, which is one with SatChitAnanda, and which we've also referred to here as the 'real you'. The whole world and everything in it may totally disappear, along with the familiar ‘I’ character that you believe you are, but the true ‘I' (or the 'real you') will remain untouched. It cannot disappear. It may have been hidden and then newly revealed in your awareness, but it will always have already been present there, wholly unaffected by anything else that might have previously appeared to have been there, and have come and gone. But that which always is, never comes or goes. To repeat what has been mentioned above, when you apply the process of detachment to everything that is in any way connected with yourself, by removing all that is time-bound or space-bound and all that is special or different, then what is left is the immortal Self, the Atma, the true Self, always one with SatChitAnada. It is this Self that energizes, motivates, and underlies all manifestation, sentience, beingness, and consciousness. That is the ‘real you’, the one who alone is who you truly are, have been, and will always be. But being subject and not object, we will probably never be able to study it and scientifically prove its existence or non-exisence.
e. Reality and the Mind - These ideas set out above are very difficult to comprehend from the point of view of a time-bound, space-bound individual, trying to make sense of it all. It is near impossible to describe the indescribable and attempt to make it comprehensible. It is no wonder that so few have any notion of its presence here and everywhere at all times. It may be strange to hear of it, and yet it is closer to you than even you yourself, while you still believe this individual which you call ‘I’, ‘me’, with its body, mind and name, to be who you are. For, who you really are is the Atma, the SatChitAnanda, the Brahman, call it what you will. It is the nearest of the near, even when it seems to be the farthest of the far, hidden as it is and unreachable by our most trusted tool for understanding, namely, the human mind. Unfortunately, minds are trained to see differences but not to see what is always the same, never changing, always equally-present everywhere. Consequently, the mind is totally inadequate for apprehending the SatChitAnanda, the true Reality. But I’m sure that by the time you make it through this article you will have a pretty good intuitive sense of that one eternal Reality, which we’re speaking of here.
3. The Hypothesized Evolution of the Universe
a. The Two Conundrums - Physics tends to avoid the supernatural, that which is not readily describable or understandable through established physical principles. So, it is only because it could not otherwise be accounted for, that physicists had to acknowledge that something unexplainable and far beyond their equations appears to be happening in the Cosmos. Two conundrums immediately come to mind, namely, one, the need to make the universal laws of physics and the history of the universe comply with the requirements for the existence of human life on this planet, and two, the need to account in the physicists’ ‘Theory of Everything’ for dark mass and dark energy, which together account for over 95% of the as yet unknown mass of the universe. Dark matter and dark energy are a total enigma about which little or nothing is known, but which are totally unlike any of the known atomic matter that conforms to the ‘standard model’ of physical particles and which applies to all the known physical, atomic-based matter in the universe. Dark matter and dark energy, which are not directly visible but have been detected by their gravitational effects, appear to be totally outside of physics as we know it. There is almost universal consensus based on a wide variety of measurements of accelerating universe expansion, and observations of the cosmic microwave background radiation, infra-red observations of satellite and ground-based telescopes, that dark matter and energy exist. But unfortunately for physicists, our known physics is of little value in understanding them or knowing their origin. It turns out that our known physics applies only to less than one-twentieth of the visible observed or inferred universe.
b. DarkMatter and Dark Energy - I will take up the second of these conundrums first and hopefully dispatch it quickly here, since so little can be said about dark matter and dark energy, considering how little is known about them. In respect to dark matter and dark energy, there are many quandaries that need to be dealt with, but have not yet been adequately understood: As has already been mentioned, the laws of physics that we use and believe to exist, including the ‘standard model’ of particle physics recently completed by the discovery of the Higgs field and boson, which describe the organization of atomic matter in the known universe, applies to less than 5% of the gravitational mass in the universe (called ‘ordinary matter’). As for the rest, a little over 25% of the total mass of the universe is in the form of dark matter, which is subject to gravitational attraction, but is invisible to us since it doesn’t exhibit any of the other familiar properties of atomic matter, such as being subject to the electromagnetic force or the nuclear forces, which permit us to hypothesize their makeup. And then, overriding both ordinary and dark matter there is about 70% of the total mass of the universe which is in the form of dark energy that inhabits all the previously believed empty vacuum of space. Parenthetically, dark energy is subject to gravity because of Einstein’s special relativity (E=mc2) energy-mass equivalence.
c. Mysteries - This dark energy mysteriously appears to have been present in the universe for only about half of the total 13.8 billion years of the existence of the universe. And it mysteriously has the effect of accelerating the expansion of the universe by applying a pressure in the opposite direction to the attractive force of gravity. But the dark energy continues to accelerate the expansion of the universe even when the density of matter has become vanishingly small. In other words, although the density of ordinary matter and dark matter in any fixed volume of the expanding universe is constantly decreasing, and therefore gets diluted with time, the dark energy, unlike anything else we know of, appears to be unaffected by the expansion, and remains undiluted and constant with time, i.e., it appears to be independent of both time and the density of ordinary matter. So, as ordinary matter gets further and further apart from each other, and our nearest stars retreat increasingly from our view, and even the planets and the Sun in our solar system move increasingly further and further apart from each other, and as the gravitational attraction between all these various bodies decreases more and more with exponentially increasing distances between them, the density of the dark energy is unaffected and continues to accelerate the expansion of space. As we will see further on in this discussion, the only field I know of that acts independent of time, position, and density of matter, and is ever unchanging, is SatChitAnanda. So, there are a host of questions left unanswered by modern physics, and the principal one, as I see it, is the presence of the SatChitAnanda background field, which will not even be found on physicists’ list of questions that need to be studied.
d. Totally Improbable Synchonicities - We will leave the curious subject of dark matter and dark energy behind now, and go back to the first and principal conundrum facing theoretical physicists mentioned above, which was involved with coming up with a unified understanding of the universe. The first thing theoretical physics had to deal with was the inescapable need to come up with a universe that permits the existence of intelligent human life. Specifically, physicists recognize that there is a totally improbable and unbelievably vast number of synchronous events (ranging literally into many of orders of magnitude) that all had to somehow come together, in order to select this particular universe with its particular physical laws and dimensions, out of a megaverse of innumerable other like universes. This is necessary and supported by their formulations, because it is this particular universe that alone has the favorable parameters for the existence of intelligent human life on this particular planet, revolving around our mid-sized star at just the right distance and in just the right elliptical orbit, to permit the formation of life.
e. Planetary Evolution - Our star, the Sun, being a later-generation star, has just the right mass and range of internal temperatures, and, fortuitously, is in a part of the galaxy that escapes the disruptive field effects of other nearby stars and the galaxy’s massive central black hole. Furthermore, it is in a region where it can initially arise from the gaseous ejecta of much more massive, much hotter, shorter-lived stars of an earlier period of the universe, which finished their existence by exploding as supernova. In their super-hot explosive fireball, which was an order of magnitude hotter than the interior of our Sun, the conditions were ripe for nuclear fusion to produce the higher elements beyond the primordial hydrogen and helium that were the first elements to form after the big-bang. Also, the physical organizing forces and parameters of this universe were such, that the Solar system, as we know it today, could be forged from previous generations of exploding stars, that would then support the eventual emergence of life on this perfectly positioned planet.
f. Evolution of Life - After billions of years of volcanic activity forming the intersecting plates of oceans and land-masses on the surface of our planet, these finally cooled and stabilized into something close to the topographic formation of the earth we have today, which provides conditions to appear in which single-celled prokaryote bacteria could emerge. Then after a further millions upon millions of years of primitive one-celled life, sufficient O2 appeared in the air to support more advanced single celled eukaryote, DNA-containing life forms, which could mutate into multi-celled plant and animal life. In this way, life progressed on the evolutionary tree to ever-more massive life forms, and as their empowerment rose and waned, other types of higher life forms appeared, leading eventually to this relatively momentary pinprick of time, which culminated in intelligent human life. And that intelligence was capable of hypothesizing the progression of vastly improbable synchronicities and conditions that brought us to this point in time. It’s a marvelous story, but it ain’t true!
g. Creator-Designer? - Before I go much further, I want to point out that this article is not intended as an argument for ‘intelligent design’. An intelligent designer would certainly be an obvious conclusion from this story, looking at the totally unfathomable number of factors which all had to come together for us to appear here and give meaning to what we seem to be discovering here. Surely there must have been a super-super intelligent architect (do I dare call him God, or perhaps a genius alien from a super-advanced ‘other’ world?) who would tie all this together and make out of all these improbable parts, a home for us to be in. A designer or creator might provide some answers that satisfy, but eventually that would raise many more questions than it answers. And no, that is not the direction this article will take us. ‘Intelligent design’ or a creation story with a divine creator is not the argument I will advance here.
h. Time Space Unreality - The principal argument that this article will advance is the recognition of the illusory nature of the world and questioning the universally unchallenged beliefs in the reality of time, the reality of space, the reality of evolution, the possibility of individual separative life, the reality of birth and death, and a few others. In other words I challenge you, or more correctly I invite you, to be open to question just about every firmly-ensconced belief you’ve held about yourself, about everyone else, and about the world around you… beliefs you may never before have opened to doubt. I will show that we believe ourselves to be creatures locked into time and space. And as such, it seems quite natural to come up with an evolutionary time story involving the cosmos and biological evolution which starts with the dramatic beginnings of the big-bang, and through a succession of evolutionary happenings, ascents to ever greater levels of order and organization, leading from the ancient birth of the universe through successive exploding stars to synthesize the higher elements such as carbon, oxygen, phosphorous, sodium, potassium, iron, etc., all necessary for life, then forming our solar system and our particular planet, and step by step providing the favorable conditions for organic molecules to come together and for life to evolve, despite all the pitfalls along the way. This then would lead to the present expression of intellectual human life. But this story is a work of fiction that is made up. It is not the true history of life.
i. Maya and the Multiverse - Using their sharp mental acumen, theoretical physicists have come up with some of the most brilliant mental constructions, not realizing that maya, illusion, and its ego thought system, which they (humans) themselves originally installed, are orders of magnitude even more brilliant than they. Unknown to them, maya continues to have them completely flummoxed while it continues to spin out illusions that are universally believed to be real. These then raise questions, which only tortuously yield to analytical understanding. And these scientific understandings are then seen as great victories, when, in truth, both the questions and solutions are devoid of meaning and have little or no relation to Reality. For example, physicists now hypothesize that as a result of applying quantum mechanical and relativistic principles to a vacuum, the universe, as we know it, got going with a stupendous explosion of incredibly hot, incredibly dense space. This ‘big bang’ explosion was not unique to our universe but occurred, and is presumably still occurring, over and over again millions upon millions of times in hyper-space, with each primeval explosion creating a separate universe with its own laws of physics and space-time characteristics. One of the countless universes that resulted from all this activity is ours, which had the right parameters and force fields for just the right size star and the rightly positioned planet, to create molecules of water, a blanket of oxygenated air, stable chemical conditions and all the other myriad details, including a mild range of temperatures, food, and air, for molecules of life to appear, and eventually morph into human life, as we know it. As already mentioned, this evolutionary history starting with the beginning of the universe which evolved all the way to advanced human life, makes an awesome, incredible story. But, nothing could be further from the truth!
j. You Are Not in the Universe. The Universe is in You - What the cosmologists do not realize is that pure being, expressing itself here and now in human existence, is not the end product of the universe's long evolutionary history. What that story does not account for is that pure being is eternal, ever unchanging and independent of time, space, physical laws and universes. This particular universe which happens to conform in its history and characteristics to the particular evolutionary story being currently entertained in 21st century cosmology, is contained within being, and not vice versa. In other words, it is not that there developed a favorable universe from scratch that set the stage in a linear evolutionary progression over 13.8 billion years for humans to be here, but that you, not as body but as pure Self, are already here and were always already here. And this universe is merely a grand story concocted by maya and its ego henchman, along with space and time, to give meaning to a phony world and false entities that have insinuated themselves into awareness, much as dream does in sleep. As the product of maya and its ego thought system, this hypothesized universe manages to totally hide the unchanging Reality, replacing It with a world of untruth, characterized by subterfuge and false creation, that is posing as truth. This chimera is empowered and given sentience by the very Reality whose existence it ignores or denies. But there’s nothing really happening here. The world we know, with its complex and exquisite history appears to arise, but it is just an illusion of truth. It has no real existence by itself. The only presence that exists here and everywhere, is you, the one eternal Consciousness, i.e., the Atma, the SatChitAnanda, the one Reality, in which time, space and universe play at the game of reality. More on this, below.
4. The Three Illegitimate Pursuits
a. Theory of Everything or Nothing? - Getting back to my experience of the Hawking movie, after watching it I realized that having spent the last thirty years on other pursuits (primarily spiritual and teaching alternative healing), I haven't kept up with the latest theories of physics. In the intervening years following the early 1980's, when I was teaching astro-physics subjects at the SSS Institute of Higher Learning, a new university in India, I have not had much interest in cosmology. But this movie stimulated my interest again, because intuitively I could feel something was awry with the explanation. So, to get myself going again I read Hawking's brilliant books, 'A Short History of Time' and 'The Grand Design', as well as a couple of more theoretical technical books by a leading physicist, and spent a month devouring those books. What I came away with was a huge 'Wow!' at the brilliant physics that has been happening these past few decades. But at the same time, reflecting on my total conviction in the non-dual Advaita Vedanta that my teacher in India taught, I realized that from an advaitic perspective, all this celebratory physics talk of having achieved the culmination of the greatest human intellectual achievement of all time, was specious. Beautiful as it was from an intellectual perspective, in my non-dual advaitic eyes it represented more a 'theory of nothing', instead of the much lauded 'Theory of Everything'. (I realize this is a pretty brazen assessment, coming from this 87-year-old, challenging some of the greatest intellects on the planet! But I feel undeterred. Based on my own spiritual experiences, I have absolute faith in the correctness of the Advaita Vedanta and its Upanishadic teachings, and so will continue by digging in further.)