Saturday, June 23, 2012

Mosaic of life

The life size painting looked spectacular from a distance. The figure on the canvas seemed  life like and  felt as if she would walk straight out of the picture  and sit next to you any moment. The canvas seemed to have frozen her in time, but it could not restrain the vitality in her eyes as also her vivacious expression. As I moved closer to appreciate the work of art, my optical zoom started picking up subtle imperfections. The strokes of the brush had left their footprints at various spots. The different shades that were amorphously merging into a continuum now showed  some individuality. As I got closer ,the nuances seemed to look coarse and when only a couple of feet separated me from the canvas, i seemed to realise that my intense appreciation of this art relied on  a sort of visual distortion that the distance generated. The picture (the object) and  me (the subject) remained the same. What changed the equation was the distance which manipulated my perception. The greater distance afforded a birds eye view of the picture. It permitted  a more holistic assessment. From a distance,the strokes merged effortlessly into one another self  effacingly . They  collectively created an optical illusion of   reality.   Stepping closer made  the individual strokes far more egoistic and  assert  their uniqueness. Jostling  for attention.   Focusing on smaller and smaller portions distorted the picture .The  apparent perfection from a distance was paradoxically  a symphony of   imperfections.  Distance forgave these imperfections and  blessed my perception with a wholesome benevolence. The beauty of the picture seemed to rely on a certain minimum distance, a threshold of sorts ,which ,when transgressed  revealed a distortion.  " The  law of diminishing beauty" , in the economics of appreciation.  Proximity comes at the cost  of  scrutiny which   throws up imperfections, that  are innate or inevitable.  Distance  conceals  imperfections subtlely  without intent to deceive. Distance, between subject and object  has wider connotations. Maintaining distance  impacted  relationships,  appraisal of our lives,  dealing with a problems, and maybe for a host of  perceptive phenomenon. Being close to a person requires  an acceptance of his imperfections which will eventually become obvious.  Continuous proximity over time highlights the imperfections and "love " may be developing a conditioned  ability to blur the incongruence in the person. A holistic "distanced" appraisal of life is the cornerstone for happiness. Life is a mosaic, a collage, and its beauty lies in perceiving  it in totality. The human body is the greatest testimony to this truth. The body an inveritable mosaic of cells working synchronously and selflessly. Each cell as alive as the entire form. And yet, working silently, and unobtrusively.The beauty of the entire form lies in a continuity , and harmony of its individual constituents. A "pixelated " view  of existence is the  harbinger of unhappiness and frustration. Such  a mindset distorts the beauty of life by a futile attention to detail. Ability to look at the larger picture, helps maintain balance and  equanimity. The larger picture is visible only if one takes those crucial few steps to distance oneself . The distance that is so crucial to obscure the imperfections into an integrated assessment of reality. For those who look at life close upfront,  the aberrations  predominate and  become a source of misery and bitterness .They  lack the ability to see an underlying holistic beauty in the casual disarray of life. Extremes of this mindset manifest as ailments ,  such as OCD, hypertension ,depression to name a few. Reality is a blend of  perfection and imperfection. What can be changed is perception.. I walked away from the picture to the exit, with a deep sense of respect for "distance " that was as crucial for the beauty of the painting as the genius of the  artist.    Dr. Deepak Ranade. (the author is a consultant neurosurgeon)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

I am therefore the universe is.

My concept  of myself is an "Amness" wrapped up  in layers of  impressions, experiences and  identities. Like a sedimentary rock, layer by layer added  as time goes by . I am deeply humbled by the sheer vastness of this manifold universe and yet awestruck by my ability to comprehend parts thereof. Like Einstein said, "the most incomprehensible aspect of the universe is that it is comprehensible" I keep trying to make sense of it all. To look for a method in this madness called life. To look for some order in this chaotic but extraordinary world.  I wonder how can I ever have any sort of control on the direction and momentum of this juggernaut ?  My aims and aspirations often times seem to have no coherence with  what has been preordained, and the suspense can sometimes kill.  Attempts to discover  the " whats , hows and whens" get overwhelmed by the total silence when the "why" pops up.  After being numbed by the sheer incomprehensibility of the universe and myself, my thinking gets limited to the welfare and sustenance of this   "restriction  " called myself.  As do most of the fortunate ones who dont let existential issues adulterate their unbridled romance with the  mundane. This restricted  locus of consciousness then embarks on a quest for gratification of itself . A few disappointments later, the why comes back with a renewed vengeance. The program of consciousness might have an inherent default setting that precludes any queries about itself.  Like the finger that touches everything unable to touch itself.  Can the sensation of touch ever be touched ? Ouch.  Touched a raw nerve.  I quickly exit the "touch me not " zone. A touchy affair. Best avoided. A call from a patient brings back semblance of control.  And a purpose, albeit temporary .  Relieving a person in pain, a very noble, divine act. I am filled with a sense of propriety, a sense of superiority as I watch the lady of the house burying herself in  apparently meaningless chores.  I realise, the different wrappings become a  cause of comparison and  subsequently  generate an ego that momentarily satiates this "why". Caress the present layer, and stem this onslaught of existential probity. Is this ego a vestige ? An oversight of evolution ?  Does  it need a separate evolutionary process?   The ego rebels and suddenly, asserts itself like never before.  The universe exists because I am perceiving it. The quantum world supports this viewpoint perfectly. Nothing exists until  it is observed . I am the cognising entity that creates and sustains the entire universe. Brilliant. I am the centre and creator of my universe. Wow. Suddenly, one of the four universal truths of the Upanishads flashes in front of my eyes. " Aham Brahmaasami" The brahma dwells within myself.  Brahma is the awareness that cognises. The master program that simultaneously cognises the self and the universe. The awareness that can cognise the fact that it is cognising . This awareness manifesting simultaneously as the observer, observed and observation.   Consciousness  that can generate a conviction in this apparition of identities that it has created. The finger , until it touches something,  merely has the potential to perceive . If there is nothing to touch, it is left with no option but find a way to touch itself. Eureka. Creation is merely awareness becoming aware of itself by touching itself. The finger has nothing to touch so it creates an imaginary extension of itself to touch, and exults in its perceptive abilities. The "why" melts away into an epiphany. Doing something  purposelessly  also can have a purpose .  Cause effect have an existence only in chronology. They are meaningless when simultaneous.  An empty pot hanging in the  air .  The pot merely generating a sense of separateness for the air it segregates. The pot breaks. What happens to the air whilst it was in the pot before the pot broke and after it broke ?  Nothing ever happens. Just the sense of separateness ends. The layers that separated "amness" as a separate entity peeled off. The eternal question remains " can I peel these layers voluntarily ?"  " Can the air within connect with the air without with the pot being intact ?" Dr. Deepak M. Ranade

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

SAND conference , Amsterdam, 31st May to 3 june

The setting was perfect. In the lush woods of Utrecht nestled in a forest at the outskirts of Amsterdam. The ambience , a testimony to the journey of mankind,from the thick forests to the precision of technology and perfection of engineering. There was a certain air of Non duality about the venue. No two opinions. The sunny weather too seemed prophetic , forecasting the dazzling brilliance of the speakers we were to witness over the next three days as it were. The symbol of this movement is AUM = mc2 where AUM is representative of the universal truth that includes the experience of this universe. The universal truth will have to factor in the element of consciousness to connect the descartes mind matter duality. And mc2 of course part of the universal equation equating mass with energy , the ontological units of the universe.

This August assembly was attempting to evolve our understanding of creation and consciousness from a psuedopodal clumsy locomotion to an erect bipedalism, setting afoot on the limbs of science and non-duality.

Over the next few days, we entered a seemingly new world of fractals, quantum particles and fields, quantum foam, and many more abstractions of thoughts and concepts. Was creation really such a complicated phenomenon. Could experimental reductionism of science ever be synthesised with the abstract experiential realm of spirituality to unravel the mysteries of understanding the self and this manifold creation?

One paper proposed a hypothesis that suggested that our "self" was a holographic virtual image and the real image was the one in our brain . When the divine light or universal consciousness rays fell on the " kundalini" these rays diffracted to form the real image and reflected to form the virtual image. This hypothesis was put forth by Dr Taylor, a quantum physicist. It sounded very original and was quite well received.

Another very interesting take was the one that revisited the equation which was reduced by Einstein to the famous E= mc2. The original equation was one that expressed E as a square. E2 = m2c4 + p2c2

The velocity of any particle was considered negligible compared to the speed of light by Einstein. So the part dealing with the momentum of the particle was dropped. The value of E would have to have a positive and negative polarity, but the negative value was ignored and even totally discounted , even by Heisenberg. That finally gave us the E= mc2.

However when Wolfgang Pauli discovered that sub atomic particles were spinning at near equal the speed of light the momentum of the particle could not be ignored. The negative value of E is looked upon as retro causality. That is, the effect precedes the cause. Energy is manifested first and the electron moves back in time to become a positron. Fascinating concept.

Entropy is always increasing, and is positive. But in retro causality, entropy is negative. Syntropy. Matter was considered to be the one with positive entropy whilst all life forms were retro causal with a syntropy. This view was deliberated by one and all and in fact seemed to whet the intellectual appetite of the gathering.

One of the speakers was a young lad of 34 whose world went tipsy turvy when he was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour. Ironically, his talk was titled " I was blessed with a brain tumour" . The delegates were spellbound by his viewpoint when he said he refused the option of conscious brain surgery to extirpate the tumour. He remarked that there are two worlds, one which we create for ourselves and one which actually pans out. The gist of his talk was how this very unfortunate event transformed him into living in the moment and being grateful the discordance of both these worlds notwithstanding.

The famous quantum physicist and a person who was in the race for the presidential election in 1996 and 2000 Dr. John Hagelin had a very equanimous and serene disposition. He gave a very measured and articulate view that spoke of a unified field of consciousness, which unifies subatomic particles and forces as expression of a single unified force. He was very assertive about of a state of non duality . A state where the knower and known dissolves and only subjectivity remains. On being asked whether in this Non dual state, would it still be a science, he replied it would ,but in the realm of the experiential, beyond semantics and concepts.

A quantum physicist From France showed a film that shows the appearance of bands in the famous double slit experiment. The bands would appear only if light propagated as a wave form. But strangely the interference bands appeared pixel by pixel even when a mono photonic beam was used. This suggested that the photon simultaneously passed through both the slits and created an interference with itself to produce the bands. It was very enchanting. She in fact went as far as to replay the recording and that her team considered this clip as sacred.

The scientific sessions were interspersed with meditation sessions. The session conducted by Rupert Spira was particularly very effective. It transported the collective consciousness of the two hundred odd participants to a level of internal unified silence. It was an experience to cherish. The evenings used music to experience a communion with divinity.

The performance that combined the serene cello with the vivacious harp truly seemed to reverberate the theme of non duality. The discrete notes of each harmonised into a sort of divine alliance.

The deliberations of scientists and delegates from 23 nations appeared to have a consensus on non-duality, or Adwaita. It was gratifying to note frequent references to this ancient Indian wisdom and philosophy. This ideology that for long was shackled by religious connotations and it was heartening to realise that it is being revisited by contemporary scientific thought and research.

The conference was holistic in the true sense. Each approach discrete , at times hard core scientific, and other times intangible . We were walking the edge of science and knowledge. Knowledge that is in the domain of experience and hence more metaphysical than physical. The adwaita philosophy ,that had a very mild resonance with the substance of spinoza may eventually reveal the truth that expresses the mind matter descartian duality as an awareness where the two merge into an endless infinite unity.Both unmistakably proving the existence of an ultimate truth that seems to display a wave particle duality. Appearing illusory when specifically looked for but manifests tangibly when experienced , as the harmony of soulful music,or the beauty of this manifold creation .