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Chapter XI: The Vision of Non-Duality: Knowledge Yoga.

objects are awareness

Relative Knowledge, Absolute Knowledge, Seeking Stops When the Knowledge Is Firm, Self-inquiry , The Real and the Apparently Real,Limitless Does Not Mean Big, It Is Ordinary Awareness, They Exist but They Are Not Real, Non-Duality Does Not Mean Sameness, The Key to Liberation: Understanding Awareness, Jiva and Isvara, Freedom from or Freedom for Jiva?, Limitless Bliss , The Five Sheaths, The Three StatesThe Waker, The Dreamer, The Sleeper, The Opposite Thought, The Three Gunas.

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objects are awareness

Postby Andy » Sun Nov 22, 2015 8:07 am

Hi folks,

Ive got a mainly Buddhist background, but I'm really starting to appreciate the Vedanta teachings.

I can see how awareness (me) illumes and creates objects within me. For example there is no colour red without the witnessing of eye perception. In this way the senses create a holographic representation of reality which is known through awareness. At least this is my understanding so far.

I'm struggling however with the teaching that the material world is also made of awareness, the substanless substance. Any pointers or suggested reading would be very welcome.

Many thanks

Andy
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Re: objects are awareness

Postby georgschiller » Sun Nov 22, 2015 10:48 pm

Hi Andy,

many of us have a budhist background! In my opinion Buddhism provides a good foundation but at some point turns out to be frustrating...

You are right concerning the "holographic reality". All we experience are the properties, never the objects itself.

Concerning the topic of "objects are awareness":
How about replacing the word awareness with the word existence?
Everything appears in existence. Everything exists.
Objects exist, right? but existence is not a property of the object. Although, it seems to be that existence is a property of objects "but there is only one existence out of which objects" appear!
To make now the advance to "objects appear in existence" is not too far off, right? Now, replace the word existence with awareness again and the problem might (?) be solved?

Based on this, what is an object actually?
Objects are existence plus a name and plus a form. That is all!
Furthermore, objects are objects, objects will never be a subject.
Our mind experiences objects but can the mind experience the subject (existence, awareness,...)?
Keep in mind that the mind can never experience existence or awareness. Why? Because existence is subtler than the mind.
Or in different words: The mind appears in existence; therefore, the mind is dependent on existence, on me.
We can only experience existence by the intellect as knowledge. "In this case knowledge is as good as experience because the intellect infers based on previous experience."

Reminder: Objects depend on existence/awareness, but existence is independent of objects.

Source: Satsang by James Swartz: The Logic of Objects – Effect and Cause – Gross to Subtle

Best, Georg
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Re: objects are awareness

Postby Andy » Mon Nov 23, 2015 2:32 am

Hi Georg,

Many thanks for taking time to reply.

What you wrote certainly strengthens the position that awareness creates the objects we perceive and so awareness is what we experience as existence. If im understanding correctly then I'm with that so far.

However there are forms or shapes of atoms/photons that awareness paints the perceived reality onto. We can never know exactly what this is as we are limited by our senses but it is something ie the physical manifest universe.

I wonder what Vedanta says about the forms of the physical universe and how they arise from awareness. I'm trying to reconcile how the physical universe is also awareness.

Many thanks
Andy
 
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Re: objects are awareness

Postby georgschiller » Mon Nov 23, 2015 3:05 am

Hi Andy,

Andy wrote:Many thanks for taking time to reply.

I am happy to help you as far as I can :)

Andy wrote:What you wrote certainly strengthens the position that awareness creates the objects we perceive and so awareness is what we experience as existence.


You are right: "awareness is what we experience as existence"!
There is however a common mistake: Awareness does not create anything.
It is just the background - so to say - in which everything appears.
A common example is the clay and the pot. The pot is dependent on the clay but the clay does not depend on the pot. Change the form and the name of the pot, does it affect clay?
No, the clay is clay, indepedent of the form and the name.

Andy wrote: I'm trying to reconcile how the physical universe is also awareness.


Well, to use correct language. Everything appears in awareness. The physical universe appears in awareness. Awareness is limitless, timeless, boundless,...
So, the appropriate question is, how does the apparent physical universe appear in awareness?

Andy wrote:However there are forms or shapes of atoms/photons that awareness paints the perceived reality onto.


There is some misunderstanding: awareness does not "paint the perceived reality". Awareness or existence is independent of the perceived reality.
There is however a power in awareness/existence which makes awareness appear as objects. We call this power Maya. Maya has the ability to create apparent objects. Awareness is independent of Maya but Maya requires Awareness. Remember that awareness is nondual which means that even something like the power of Maya is possible.

For further questions on the topic of Maya I would suggest using the satsang function on this website, or James Essence of Englihtenment book.
But feel free to ask any question you have ;)
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Re: objects are awareness

Postby Andy » Mon Nov 23, 2015 5:03 am

Hey Georg,

Thanks for the pointers. Yes it is the senses that do the painting which are mithya and unchanging awareness that illumes objects.

I understand that all we can experience is awareness in different forms.

In Vedanta teachings I read that objects are nothing but awareness and what we've said so far covers this in experiential terms. I got the feeling that this teaching also referred to the substance of material objects.

I struggle with understanding how substance ie patterns of atoms etc. are coming from awareness.

I'll read up on Maya as you suggest and hopefully find the answers

Many thanks
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Re: objects are awareness

Postby georgschiller » Mon Nov 23, 2015 8:21 am

Hi Andy!

Andy wrote:I got the feeling that this teaching also referred to the substance of material objects.


The idea that there is a substance of material objects is a misunderstanding. What is an object anyways, then just its properties? What is a pencil then just its properties of being long, solid, thin, and so on. In fact, the pencil does not need a substance. If you would know the substance of a pencil, would it change anything?
No, because all you need is its properties.
If you'd like to maintain the idea of a substance then think about awareness as the substanceless substance. Every object appears in awareness, so awareness can be called the "substance" for the appearing objects. At the same time awareness cannot be the object because it is the subject. Since a substance is an object and awareness is not an object, we call awareness the "substanceless substance" :)

Andy wrote:I struggle with understanding how substance ie patterns of atoms etc. are coming from awareness.


If you ask how objects (In Vedanta called jagat) come from awareness, then there are answers in Vedanta. I can copy something from Sundari and James satsang on how objects appear in awareness (satsang is called: "Isvara, Jiva, Jagat and the Gunas")

" Awareness ~ Before the projection of maya is referred to as “pure” consciousness/awareness, or paramatman, amongst many other names, including Isvara.

“Pure” serves to define awareness as “having no qualities” but is not actually a good word because it implies that awareness could be “impure,” which it cannot. However, what is important to understand is that it is used to distinguish “pure” awareness from awareness plus maya. The word “before” is also not correct because there is no before or after in awareness. Ram explains this beautifully in the e-satsang below mine where he unfolds two creation theories. Time and space do not apply to awareness, as they are objects known to it. As Edwin our editor beautifully puts it, definitions are the stuff of duality but they bring the clarity that helps us transcend it.

Maya ~ Maya is a power (shakti) that exists in awareness or it would not be unlimited. It only “covers” a small “portion” of awareness. We have to use the words “covers” and “portion” in order to teach but they are not strictly speaking correct, because they have spatial and temporal implications while awareness is beyond space and time and has no parts. Maya is the principle that gives rise to duality. It is also called ignorance.

Isvara ~ Once maya is operating, awareness “assumes” the role of Creator and apparently identifies with maya. Awareness in association with maya (ignorance) is then referred to as Isvara, or “God,” the Creator, preserver and destroyer of the objects in the dharma field. As such it is also known as the macrosmic mind, the causal body or the deep sleep state. Isvara, or maya, is a “limiting adjunct” for awareness in that it causes awareness to appear as the limited world. Again, this implies a sequence of “events” which is not correct, because it infers time; we describe it so because we need to understand the distinction between the real and the apparently real, satya and mithya (read James’ e-satsangs below; he explains this beautifully).

[...]

Jagat ~ Awareness appears as the creation (jagat) when ignorance (maya) is operating. It is an effect and is called the apparent (mithya) reality. It includes all the gross and subtle objects in existence, the objective empirical world and the subjective psychological world.

Gunas ~ The creation comes into existence with the emergence of the three gunas: sattva, tamas and rajas. Sattva is intelligence and knowledge; tamas, a heavy, dense energy, is matter, the substance of the creation; rajas is the dynamic active energy, also known as that which transforms objects; psychologically, it is known as the mode of action and desire. The gunas make up everything in creation from thoughts to gross objects. In effect, the gunas are another word for Isvara.

Isvara plus jiva and jagat make up the dharma field. Their common identity is non-dual reality, awareness, out of which these four “orders” arise. Although they share a common identity as awareness, they are not the same as pure awareness. However, all the orders and the objects within them depend on awareness, but awareness is always free of them. A good analogy is H2O. Water is pure H2O. So are the ocean (Isvara) and the wave (jiva/jagat). But while the wave and the ocean are dependent on the H2O, the H2O is free of both the wave and the ocean. Pure awareness is free of Isvara, jiva and jagat, but Isvara-jiva-jagat has a dependent existence on awareness."


Yes, do read about Maya it is a great concept to understand reality. You find lots of information in the books and on this website (also on the videos -> especially the Panchadasi videos).
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Re: objects are awareness

Postby Andy » Mon Nov 23, 2015 11:25 am

Hello again,

You wrote

Sidetrack: The idea that there is a substance has never been proven by the material sciences. Why not? Because objects are just appearances and appearances cannot have a substance (think of the holographic universe).

I find this difficult to understand. If we were in a dream then it is easier to see that the substance of the dream was projected. It is different in the waking state or at least it seems it. I think the emptiness teaching are pointing to co-dependence between objects not denying that they exist. They exist dependent on each other with no inherent existence.

I'm grateful for what you posted about the gunas and I have a good clue now as tamas is said to produce the matter of the universe. These are the teachings that id like to understand so I'll read around this and look up the video you mentioned.

Thanks again and best wishes
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Re: objects are awareness

Postby Andrew » Mon Nov 23, 2015 2:05 pm

Hi Andy,

Welcome to SW and also, thank you for posting your question. When I read them this morning, it prompted me to reflect on the teachings and is a good way to "fact check" one's comprehension of the scripture.

Anyways, I see that Georg has given you some really great material to dig into. However, from your last post, it would appear that you are still stuck. The good news is that you are very close to the answer.

You said that you can see why the dream state is a projection, but that you believe that the waking state is different...or at least, seems to be.

Seems to be is the magic phrase. The dream state is not really different from waking. The only difference is that your physical body is in abeyance. However, all your object experiences occur in the mind whether you are in bed napping or up and about.

Swami Tatvadidananda does a great presentation on this as part of his series on Dakshinamurty Strotram. All your experiences occur in your mind but the mind has the peculiar quality of making those experiences seem "outside" when we are awake.

Can you separate the object from the experience? If there is experience, there is mind and if there is mind, there is awareness. Why? Because although mind is an object in awareness too, it is the handy reflective surface that serves as a means of knowledge.Knowledge cannot exist without awareness.


If the experience cannot be separated from the object, then its existence(sat) is awareness also (chit).

As far as mind is concerned, there is no difference between me seeing my dog while awake and me dreaming that I see my dog as the existence of my dog occurs in mind which is a function of awareness operating in the mithya world.

The sticky part is that, when awake, my physical senses are active and connecting the mind to objects because attention is turned outwards. When dreaming, the sense organs are off and intention is inwards. Typically, humans have a bias towards the so called outwards experience of waking versus the so called inwards experience of dreaming. We think that those waking experiences are more important, more real and happen by some different means, but they dont really.

As Swami T said, "if you are dreaming you are dreaming and if you are awake you are dreaming" (paraphrase).

Hope that helps! If not, sorry!

Best wishes,


Andrew


PS good name by the way!
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Re: objects are awareness

Postby Andy » Mon Nov 23, 2015 3:00 pm

Hi Andrew,

You wrote

The dream state is not really different from waking. The only difference is that your physical body is in abeyance. However, all your object experiences occur in the mind whether you are in bed napping or up and about.

That made me laugh as its very true.

I get stuck because in the waking state I believe there is a projected representation of a dog and also the form (dog) that my projection is "painted on".
This seems like duality. I can see that experientially we could be said to be dreaming. It the idea that everything is awareness including the material world that I'd like to resolve. In other words there is a material world that I experience even though I can only experience a representation of this. Its different from the dream as the waking state has different natural laws.

Think I need to be looking at creation theory in Vedanta.

Many thanks Andrew:)
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Re: objects are awareness

Postby Andy » Tue Nov 24, 2015 4:28 am

Hello again,

After further reading I found a quote by Peter Russell that explains my query better than I did.

We think the world we see around us is composed of matter–that the stuff of the world is, for the want of a better word, matterstuff. As far as the actual physical reality is concerned, this may be so–uncertain though we may be as to the ultimate nature of this matterstuff. But the world we see around us is not the physical world. The world we actually know, is the world that takes form in our mind. And this world is not made of matterstuff, but mindstuff. Everything we know, perceive, and imagine, every color, sound, sensation, thought, and feeling, is a form that consciousness has taken on. As far as this world is concerned, everything is structured in consciousness.

This is saying exactly what Georgs was saying about dreams...thank you Georgs. What I was wondering is how does Vedanta deal with the matterstuff of the physical reality and how does it arise.

The quote is from http://www.peterrussell.com/SG/ch4.php and makes interesting reading for anyone interested.

Ive got some reading to do :) Cheers folks
Andy
 
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Re: objects are awareness

Postby georgschiller » Tue Nov 24, 2015 6:26 am

HI Andy,

Andy wrote:What I was wondering is how does Vedanta deal with the matterstuff of the physical reality and how does it arise.


This is a very technical issue. It can be quite complicated and it is not completely necessary for Moksha but it is nonetheless very interesting 8-)

Source: Sundari, "Creation in a Nutshell" to be found in the satsang section.
Further info: James’ new book Inquiry into Existence: The Lamp of Knowledge


"Before the individual jiva appears, we need to understand the context in which it appears. In the very “beginning” there is only consciousness – not that consciousness has a beginning. We can call pure consciousness paramatman, or Isvara 1. Maya, or macrocosmic ignorance, is the power to create and delude which exists in awareness or it could not be unlimited. In order to create, Isvara needs two principles: the subject and the object, i.e. duality. Duality is thus a superimposition onto non-duality, awareness. Maya is beginningless because awareness is beginningless, although maya is not always manifesting. When and where it does manifest, it operates only on a “tiny fraction of awareness” because it is not possible to obscure awareness. Maya creates an apparent obscuration, not a real one. This helps to put maya in perspective because awareness has no parts, cannot be quantified and is beyond time and space. It is important to understand this because “partially covered” means that awareness is never actually covered, because it is aware of the partial covering brought about by the manifestation of maya.

When maya appears, Isvara 1 (pure awareness) appears in the role of Creator. We can call this Isvara 2 – awareness plus maya. Isvara 2 in the role of Creator is also beginningless, but also not always manifesting, because the creation is not always manifest. When and where maya appears, Isvara’s creation, or matter, appears in the form of prakriti, or nature, a fine reflective substance, like a mirror, in which inhere three powers – sattva, rajas and tamas, creating the world of objects, i.e. the effects. Prakriti evolves but awareness does not evolve, because awareness is unchanged by the creation. Isvara plus maya creates, sustains and destroys the whole universe. It is difficult to say if Isvara creates maya or maya creates Isvara because they are essentially the same thing and appear simultaneously.

At the first stage of creation the three powers inherent in maya are not called gunas; the creation is inchoate and in potentia, so these powers are called shaktis – or qualities – and not gunas, because there is no jiva to bind yet. This reflective mirror creates in three stages.

1. In the first stage, sattva (pure knowledge) is predominant and rajas and tamas are suppressed. In sattva all the knowledge of all the forces and factors are contained; it is the seed of all creation because creation is intelligently designed.

2. In the second stage, rajas is predominant and sattva and tamas are suppressed. When rajas ispredominant, consciousness appears as the eternal universal person, or jiva, before it becomes a discrete individual. The jiva is a mixture of matter and consciousness; avidya, or personal ignorance, appears and the potential for confusion about its true nature has been established. The stage is set but the game has not begun – it is not actual confusion yet, as time has not yet appeared.

3. The creation is not complete until the third stage, when tamas predominates and rajas and sattva are suppressed. Here the five elements appear in their subtle forms (tanmatras). They split and recombine with each other, grossifying (panchikarana) into the material gross world we see. The universal jiva (apparently) splinters into many discrete jivas – picture a mirror shattering. The countless shards of mirror still reflect the light and seem disparate, but actually make up the one mirror. This is when Isvara’s creation is complete; here the gunas become ropes which bind because there is something to bind the jiva to, i.e. matter, or identification with a body. The jiva then believes it is a person and incomplete, so starts to act out its programme, which is the conditioning that Isvara plus maya has created for it. [...]"

Here is also a short video from the video set Panchadasi 2015 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AO1jokk ... e=youtu.be
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Re: objects are awareness

Postby Andy » Tue Nov 24, 2015 12:08 pm

Thanks it is very interesting and many thanks for this discussion I have a much better understanding of how awareness or ishvara creates objects. I also have a better appreciation of how the waking state is very much like a dream in terms of perception so thanks Georg and Andrew...heady material :)

The Panchadasi talks look amazing and are definitely on my wish list.

Thanks for the pointers...all the best
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Re: objects are awareness

Postby Stan » Wed Nov 25, 2015 5:27 pm

Hi Andy,

I`ve been following your inquiry and for me, your focus seems to be what you said here.

I'm trying to reconcile how the physical universe is also awareness.


If I can add a few of my thoughts, may I suggest that you have a look at the " Updates for Shiningworld Youtube-channel" Topic ? The last post features an interview with James on the `Buddha at the gas pump` site.

In the last quarter of the interview, James goes into the very topic that you raised.
He then proceeds to say which lines of inquiry best elucidate the topic in question. ie. Panchadasi via the vids in the shop and also the book....`Panchadasi-Inquiry into existence. He then touches on the importance and relevance of the teaching of the Gunas.

Personaly, I think it`s easier to get into Panchadasi via the vids BUT, you may be more reading orientated so, ...whatever works best for you.
I suspect that you would find the Panchadasi Trout lake 2014 video easier to get into and then move on to Panchadasi Tiru 2015 , which is longer and more comprehensive...also more expensive. again, your choice. I`m one of those types that like to get as many versions as possible as and when funds allow.
I would also stronly advise having a copy of the Tattva Bodh vids as they help lay a really solid foundation before getting into Panchadasi. If you struggle, I would definitelly get this set.

I think you`ve had some really good responses to your question and it would be nice to hear how you get on with your inquiry. You didn`t say but I presume that you have a copy of one or both James`s books on Enlightenment ?
Wishing you every success in your inquiry,

Stan.
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Re: objects are awareness

Postby Andy » Thu Nov 26, 2015 3:59 am

Thanks Stan you hit the nail on the head regarding the focus of my enquiry.

I'll have a good look into the resources you recommend. Is so helpful to have folk point you in the right direction. It can get confusing regarding these topics especially as I had been dipping into some neo-advaita teachings where only awareness exists. I believe traditional Vedanta speaks more helpfully in understanding ourselves and the world around us.

I shall write back when I have more of an understanding of manifest reality. Already James's analogy of the spider and the web gives an intuitive idea of things. I find it fascinating what science has to say about all of this too and i dont believe it rules out a conscious universe.

I'm currently reading "How to attain enlightenment". I watched an enquiry series on youtube and have the Bhagavad Gita vids.

All the best folks
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Re: objects are awareness

Postby Mira » Thu Nov 26, 2015 8:23 am

Hi Andy,
Let me add my welcome! You asked a good question and got some nice answers. I would also second Panchadasi as a great text for understanding the cosmology of Vedanta.

The cosmology of Vedanta (e.g, the understanding of Maya, Ishvara, gunas, jagat and jiva) is what sets it apart from neo-advaita. Unless one completely understands these relationships, there will always be doubt. It's fine for the Neos to say "you are awareness and there is only awareness"--but how does one reconcile the world (jagat)--so subtle doubts will remain unless the cosmology is understood.

Like you, I have a scientific orientation and so far I have not found any real discrepancy between Vedanta and modern science. In fact, I would say that Vedanta is a great framework for bringing together the understanding in modern physics and neuroscience.

There are some nice satsangs by Sundari on the topic of Vedanta and Science. One is called "Vedanta vs. Science". You can find it using the search function. I think you might enjoy it.

Anyway, don't hesitate to ask if you have questions and have fun with all the readings.
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Re: objects are awareness

Postby Andy » Thu Nov 26, 2015 10:58 am

Hello Mira,

Good to hear from you. I would very much like to understand the cosmology of Vedanta in the light of current science as you say to remove subtle doubts and its fascinating. Many thanks I will look up Sundari's satsangs on this topic.

I was driving home from work tonight and turned on the radio for the first time in a month or so. On radio 4 there was a great conversation going on with a physicist, he was saying the appearance of material world was really an illusion. Great synchronicity :)
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Re: objects are awareness

Postby Mira » Sun Nov 29, 2015 11:30 am

Hi Andy,

I thought you might be interested in an excellent show which summarizes the view of reality from modern theoretical physics. It's called the Fabric of the Cosmos and it's available on the PBS website (Pbs.org) for free.

There are several episodes that go from Newtonian physics to quantum physics and finally string theory, multiverses and even the concept of the holographic universe. Best of all, it's really well done with remarkable graphics and it's very easy for anyone to follow (without a physics background). I thought you might enjoy it.

I loved watching it and it reinforced how little science actually knows about the true nature of reality. Vedanta, on the other hand, has clearly defined aspects of non-dual reality (jiva, maya/Ishwara, self/Brahman) which can nicely encompass anything that scientists figure out in mithya.

Hope your inquiry is going well!
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Re: objects are awareness

Postby Andy » Mon Nov 30, 2015 8:03 am

Hello Mira,

Thanks for the link it looks an interesting watch. Its amazing the theories that modern physics presents to understand reality. I remember coming across the holographic theory where the data that represents everything is projected from the event horizon of a black hole!

As you say it is apparent how little modern science can explain.
Or in the words of the physicist Erwin Shrodinger

If we think we can picture what's going on in the quantum domain, that is one indication we have it wrong

It quite something what Vedanta has to say about things and its certainly no more outlandish and feels more intuitive that some of the modern scientific theories Looking forward to my continued inquiry...

Best wishes
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Re: objects are awareness

Postby georgschiller » Thu Dec 03, 2015 1:02 pm

HI Mira,

thanks for the great recommendation! I watched the first episode of the PBS series in which they explained the object "space" and how it appears to be only a holographic projection.

It's really fun to watch those documentaries once a background in Vedanta has been established :mrgreen: I would even say that it can be a great aid to self-inquiry since it apparently supports the idea that our world is not real. That our world apparently is just a holographic projection!

Real fun!
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Re: objects are awareness

Postby Mira » Sat Dec 05, 2015 11:05 am

Glad you enjoyed it, Georg! The next few episodes are even more mind bending. It's particularly noteworthy that the host of the program is Brian Greene who is a mainstream theoretical physicist at Columbia Univ. So it's not some wacky 'out there' interpretation that you often see in new age spiritual circles. But what could be more 'out there' than quantum physics and string theory! I also agree that understanding that the universe may be a projection (as now suggested by many mainstream theoretical physicists) is such a useful aid to self inquiry.
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