There is a great deal of spiritual value in the earlier writings of deep thinking Hindus. Indeed, they had a similar philosophy in certain aspects that is in harmony with the philosophy that accrues from quantum physics. As described elsewhere, the new physics destroys the barriers that man erects to isolate and separate, not only humanity, but all creation. All is constructed out of common elements (the present known elements are particles), but the whole universe seems to run on lines that can only be described as interdependent. Well of course, in spite of the barriers erected between the various “classes” of humanity, all of it is interdependent: the worker is dependent on capital (whether of the state or investors), and the bosses depend on the workers, or they did until technology made people redundant.
The family depends on others to have the dustbins emptied, for the fish to be caught, for food to be grown, and for trains and buses to be driven. There seems little in today’s society that does not come under this umbrella of interdependence. To begin with, in the ‘Upanishads’, one is directed towards God, and it uses the term imperishable” to denote the Supreme One who is not temporal
“Taking as a bow, the great weapon of the Upanishad, one should put upon it an arrow sharpened by meditation, stretching it with a thought directed to the essence of That (One). Penetrate that Imperishable as the mark, my friend.”
Another translation puts it the target aimed at is “the Lord of Love,” and the arrow is “the aspirant” and the bow is the thoughts of God, and the meditation (or contemplation) is the bow string. Furthermore the idea of God being everywhere is emphasised here also
“The Lord of Love is before and behind, He extends to the right and the left; He extends above, he extends below. There is no one here but the Lord of Love.”
Thus the Unity of the Supreme One is emphasised. But the separation generally practised by most is simply being confined to the material body and life. The student Maitreyi of the teacher and sage, Yajnavalkya, was puzzled by his teacher’s statement that
“Separateness arises from identifying Self with the body, which is made up of the elements, when this physical identification dissolves there can be no more a separate self” remembering that “self” spelt with a capital “S” equates with our soul or spirit. In the spirit world there is identification of one with the all. So the puzzled student said
“I am bewildered Blessed One, when you say there is no separate self.”
Yajnavalka went on to say that the more we think of ourselves as separate beings, we are confined to the five material senses, and that becoming one,
“when the Self is realised as the indivisible unity of life, we can be seen (heard etc)by whom…and can be known by whom ? Maitreyi, my beloved, how can the knower ever be known?
So the realisation of the Oneness of everything is important, as our eventual goal is to be One with the Source. We hardly qualify for this if we maintain a separation from all of God’s creation. This God, spoken of above as the Knower, is not known in the sense that we are aware of Its appearance or anything else except the Power, the Love, the Compassion and the constant Guidance through life. These thoughts on unity is found in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad which further goes on to describe this spiritual unity as being like salt dissolved in water. That’s pretty thorough!
In our era, this unity of the Hindus is welded into Quantum Physics. The age old ideas of this are parallel to modern science. Whatever object that you may care to think of, it is, like the salt in water an indivisible part of the whole, your atoms and the rest of the world is a collection of atoms, and the particles within are most of the time just energy rushing about at high speed, in other words, at this micro level all is the same. Aurobindo Ghose (1872-1950) put it this way as a Hindu:
“The material object becomes something different from what we now see, not a separate object on the background or in the environment of the rest of Nature, but an indivisible part, and even in a subtle way an expression of unity in all that we see.”
That is certainly in harmony with the ancient Upanishads above quoted, but it is also parallel to the physicist H.P. Stapp , in his “S-Matrix Interpretation of Quantum Theory” where is found:
“An elementary particle is not an independently existing unanalysable entity, it is, in essence, a set of relationships that reach outward to other things.”
Murti, in is “The Central Philosophy of Buddhism” quotes Nagarjuna (c.150-c.250) who as a Buddhist (from which Hinduism sprang) was also aware of this interdependence:
“Things derive their being and nature by mutual interdependence and are nothing in themselves”.
Heisenberg (1901-1976), who discovered the uncertainty principle, (where the behaviour of particles cannot be accurately known), in his “Physics and Philosophy” said
“The world thus appears as a complicated tissue of events, in which connections of different kinds alternate, overlap or combine and thereby determine the texture of the whole.”
So we and everything else in the world of the Quantum, consist of connections combining with everything else, thus a “tissue of events” rather than a static lump.
Fritjof Capra in his “Tao of Physics” says “that in Eastern Mysticism this universal interwovenness always includes the human observer and his/her consciousness, which is of course true in atomic physics.” The mere presence of an observer’s particles near the observed “separate” particles, will affect the behaviour of them. Heisenberg again:
“Natural Science does not simply describe and explain nature it is a part of the interplay between Nature and ourselves.”
All of this seems to be a mere prelude to that final Oneness, the absorption of one into the Divine Source, which is the ultimate quest of creatures if they want to do so.
Elsewhere, Chuang Tzu, in Legges translation vividly describes the shedding of the body and abandoning separation one has this union with the Ultimate Reality, the dissolving of one’s individuality into an undifferentiated oneness:
“My connection with the body and its parts is dissolved. My perceptive organs are discarded. Thus, leaving my material form and bidding farewell to my knowledge, I become one with the Great Provider. This I call sitting and forgetting thing.
How all of this is in harmony with the mysticism of those like Eckhart, Tauler, Boheme, Ruysbroek, Merton and the rest! Here is a quote from Eckhart in losing the ego:
“When I am able to establish myself in Nothing, and Nothing in myself, uprooting and casting out what is in me, then I can pass into the naked Being of God, which is the naked being of my spirit…that I may be transplanted into God and become One with Him.”
The idea of becoming empty and self-abandonment is, as we know, a necessary component in anyone who wishes to aspire to the union with the Ultimate Reality; and this understanding is clear in the earlier Hindu thought, where the individual is submerged in all. But this is not all, the strange concept of space-time is another.
M.Sachs, writing in his book “Space-time and Elementary Interactions in Relativity” states:
“The real revolution that came with Einstein’s theory was the abandonment of the idea that the space-time coordinate system has objective significance as separate a physical entity. Instead of this idea, relativity theory implies that the space and time co-ordinates are only the elements of a language that is used by the observer to describe his environment.”
Capra quoted this excerpt in his book, and thus maintains that early Eastern ideas has always maintained that space and time are constructs of the mind. The Eastern mystics treated them like all other intellectual concepts, as relative, limited and indeed illusory. The following Buddhist text of Madhyamika Karika Vrtti illustrates this when in Murti’s “Central Philosophy of Buddhism” writes:
“It was taught by the Buddha O monks, that …. In the past, the future and physical space …and individuals are nothing but names, forms of thought, words of common usage, merely superficial Realities.
We are certainly included as physical bodies, being just a collection of particles constantly dying off in micro-seconds and being replaced by others. Everything here is temporal .
Ashvaghosha, of the 1st-2nd century, who lived in NW. India, wrote many works in Sanskrit poetry, a description of the Mahayana Sutras, also in Chinese at the time of the spread of Buddhism to that country. In his “Awakening of Faith” wrote, in a parallel with Einstein:
“Be it clearly understood that space is nothing but a mode of particularisation, and that it has no existence on its own …. Space only exists in relationship to our particular consciousness.”
From these thoughts came the idea that we and the physical world are but an illusion. It is interesting to see how their ideas foreshadowed the concept of the universe now held, and without the literal interpretation adopted that we are not really here. This throws a different light on these sayings, and how true they are when applied to Einstein and his Relativity, and space/time as being an indivisible whole
All this conviction that as individuals we are not, as a collective whole we are, and the idea of absorption into the Source is not knew, as we know. The physical application of all this is to treat our fellow humans and life in general as at one with each other, foreshadowing the unity with God. Put simply, in other words :
“Love God, and your neighbour as yourself” - Jesus