|Vedanta Spiritual Library|
Module - F
Unit - F04
Lesson F0429: Practical - Inexplicability of the Universe
By Raja Subramaniyan
There are many serious scientific investigations being conducted in varied fields to find the ultimate cause for everything.
Example: An apple falls from the tree. Questioning its cause, gravitation is discovered. The next question is what causes gravitation?
There is a continuous effort to find the cause for everything with a hope that one day we will know everything that needs to be known through science.
However, this is a never-ending effort. One should have the wisdom to see that it is not possible ever to find the true nature of anything. Any investigation can progress only for few steps and eventually one will come to a dead end.
Example: Physicists keep breaking the matter into smaller and smaller particles in order to understand them. They kept inventing new laws and gained new knowledge until they reached the subatomic level. Then they discovered that the laws that are applicable at the macro level no longer work in the subatomic level. Further investigation resulted in Uncertainty Principle, which is in other words mean that it is not possible to know.
Therefore, it is important to recognize the fact that it is not possible to find explanation for anything in any field of science beyond few levels. Even the existence of a simple object cannot be explained completely.
Example: How this shirt is created? It is impossible to answer this question completely. It is possible to talk about the tailor, cloth, thread and cotton. If we analyze the cotton, we can hardly see its constituent. It just disappears in front of our eyes. Even if we use microscope we cannot see it after a certain level. Therefore, cotton does not exist but shirt appears to exist.
Even if we say that the cotton has come from a plant, we will not be able to identify the origin of the plant. We might have to talk about creation at the time of Big Bang, which is only a theory.
Questions will be never ending and even if one goes on explaining upto Big bang, it is not possible to give complete answer to the questions on 'what', 'why' and 'how' relating to any object in the universe.
Such questions are endless. Enormous amount of time, energy and money is being spent and the most intelligent among the human beings have tried their level best to get the final answer.
It can be easily seen that it is impossible to find the final answer if we consider the following fact.
In any cause-effect principle, the cause must have the attributes of the effect. For example if ring is made of gold, it should have the properties of gold. It is not possible that the cause and effect be of opposite in nature. For example, light cannot come out of darkness or darkness cannot come out of light. However, we see that two opposite entities namely an inert object and the consciousness are co-existing in living beings. How can this happen?
According to the scientists, consciousness has evolved accidentally due to chemical reactions between the inert objects. This is another way of saying, "I do not know".
Scriptures declare that the inert objects are manifested (not created) out of the consciousness and they merely appear to exist. Existence of inert objects is an illusion. This is another way of saying, "It is not possible to know".
Since the cause and effect cannot have contradicting/ opposing attributes neither could have caused the other. Nevertheless, the fact is we see both Inert Objects and Consciousness co-existing. Therefore, we need to understand the fact that there is no way we can explain this phenomena completely.
Scientists are making progress in their effort by continuously inventing new theories that overthrow the earlier ones. Moreover, none of them claims that their discovery/ invention will stand the test of time. Each invention is just a theory, which is waiting to be disproved by the subsequent research.
Scriptures declare the ultimate truth (not a theory) which will stand the test of time. It has fully explained why it is not possible to explain the reasons for anything. It is not expected that one should blindly accept that it is not possible to find the ultimate cause for anything. One should undergo serious learning, reflection and a long period of inner transformation to understand why it is not possible to explain anything.
Once we understand that nothing can be explained by empirical method then the eternal search will stop. Thus understanding that one cannot understand is the ultimate understanding.
'I do not know' will result in eternal search. 'I know that I cannot know' will end the search.
This inexplicability is now explained using an example.
We are aware that we are a living being different from an inert object. Suppose we touch an ice cube, we feel it is cold. In addition, we are sure that the ice cube does not feel the warmth of our touch. Are we equally sure that our finger feels the coldness all by itself?
People who do not think will reply, 'Yes my finger feels the coldness'. According to them, there is a difference between the ice cube (which cannot feel the sensation) and the finger (which can feel the sensation). They will attribute the difference to the 'life'. Finger has life while the ice cube is inert.
This is obviously wrong.
People who apply their mind before answering the question will perceive that finger is just a tool that is used to feel the sensation. There is something else other than finger that feels the sensation. For example if the person's hand is paralyzed, then the finger cannot feel any sensation. Therefore, it can be clearly seen that there is no difference between the finger and the ice cube. Both are inert objects.
So which is the living being that feels the cold sensation of the ice cube?
If it is not finger, people may answer, "It is the mind that feels the sensation". According to them, there is a difference between the ice cube (which cannot feel the sensation and the mind (which can feel the sensation). They will attribute the difference to the 'life'. Mind has life while the ice cube is inert.
This is also wrong.
Mind is also an inert matter just like the finger or the ice cube. For example, the finger will automatically retract when it comes with contact with the ice cube while the person is in deep sleep. Even without the mind we are aware of the coldness. On waking up that person will merely claim that he had a disturbed sleep since his mind has no memory of the coldness of the ice cube.
This awareness is the 'life'. The ice cube, finger and mind are inert objects. But the awareness cannot say that it feels the coldness of the ice cube since it does not have the required tools like mind and the finger nor it is related to them in any way.
Therefore, the question still remains unanswered: Which is the living being that feels the cold sensation of the ice cube?
Example: The court found the husband guilty of murdering his wife since he could not convince anyone that his three month old baby accidentally pulled the trigger of his gun resulting in the death.
Similarly, it is impossible for the consciousness to feel the coldness of the ice cube and it is equally impossible for the inert objects like finger and mind to feel the coldness. Therefore, the non-existent ego is held responsible and we are satisfied with the explanation 'I feel the coldness'. Any attempt to explain further will show that it is impossible to explain the event. Just as we understood that we cannot explain this event, we should accept that the universe is inexplicable. Thus the inexplicability of the illusory nature of the universe is fully explained.