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The God Particle
Mia: The other day I heard James, in the Atma Nivritti video, address you about the God particle/goddamnit particle because you knew about it better that him. I was interested in that. It reminded me that many moons ago I read Einstein’s biography, and once while watching a science program about Einstein and atoms and all that, I was listening to the science at that time and they talked about the space inside an atom, and I shouted at telly that it was God!!!! The scientist did not seem to know what the space was. Duh! I get the gist of physics but am not that knowledgeable, and with Vedanta it is a bit academic now. But it would be quite cool if one scientist did just say it out loud, about God/the Creator part of existence. It is so obvious, can’t these very smart people not see it???? Maybe they are in the closet.
Sundari: Science is great, one cannot but love it, because the misguided scientist is Isvara too. But to answer your question, even if science is grounded in consciousness, without self-knowledge it won’t make any difference to the existential suffering of the scientist. Vedanta is a science of consciousness but scientists invariably dismiss it as spiritual nonsense. You can approach consciousness with the intellect but you will only get to the doorway of self-knowledge and no further. Isvara is very strict about such things – you will not get through the door until the intellect has been trained to think differently and the mind has evolved to want different things or Isvara will not give you a pass. To want different things, the mind has to be purified. And to think differently, you need to be taught. To be taught, you need the right qualifications – and oh, dear – PhDs are not worth the paper they are printed on in this school! So sorry, scientists!
Intellectuals are attached to the way they think. They are proud of their minds and have invested so much in them that the idea of another way of thinking is dismissed out of hand. James has been invited on a few occasions to talk at the Science and Non-Duality Symposium that takes place regularly; he has not accepted, because there is no real point to it. Vedanta is a hard sell; it only appeals to minds that are ready for self-inquiry, which is why the qualifications are so important. Recently a branch of science has evolved to a more enlightened approach, but even the most enlightened scientists still objectify consciousness and confuse the apparent reality, reflected awareness (mithya) with pure awareness (satya).
Scientists are often atheists because they are, by and large, an arrogant, conceited bunch who have the vanity to think there is nothing greater than their little limited minds, such as a Creator, for instance (never mind pure awareness). Understanding science is useful only if it helps one understand the distinction between the real (that which is permanent and unchanging) and the apparently real (that which is not permanent and always changing) – and that everything in the apparent reality comes from Isvara, including scientific understandings. Unless scientific findings are understood from a non-dual perspective, they are not capable of doing making this distinction. Science is only a means of knowledge for objects. There is no point trying to get through to the scientist. Krishna says: “Let the not the wise disturb the minds of the ignorant.” There is no need to “fix” anything in the world; Isvara’s creation is perfect the way it is, and scientists have their place in the show.
Although I am still interested in science, as it fascinates me to see how Isvara reveals the glory of creation to the human mind; my interest waned when I found Vedanta because I understood that all the answers to existence are contained in the scripture – and nowhere else. End of search. It makes not one bit of difference for moksa to know scientific facts about the world of objects. In fact it can become an impediment in that one gets caught up thinking that science has the answers or that one is “more” intelligent if one understands science. One is not. Science can give you knowledge of objects and how the creation functions, but even with all the science in the world no one person will ever fully understand the mind of Isvara.
The problem with science is that it represents the mind’s best effort to figure out the objective truth of the material reality – within the confines of the apparent reality. It cannot step outside of the apparent reality without self-knowledge. Science does not and cannot take maya or Isvara into account, so therefore does not have the means to discriminate between what is real and what is apparently real. Science thinks objects are real. Vedanta has no quarrel with science as a means of knowledge for objects. But it is not a valid means of knowledge for consciousness, because science is flawed, a prisoner of a methodology that is based on perception and inference of objects alone.
Even if science approaches understanding consciousness, it is still attached to its epistemology, the senses. It is thus limited to interpretations or assumptions inherent in its methodology. Accordingly, at best it can only objectify consciousness, seeing it as something we have instead of who we are. Science is all about measurement and proof – and consciousness is the only thing in reality that does not need proof, because it is self-evident. I mean, how do you know what you know or know what you don’t know? Er, duh – that would have to mean you are conscious, right? The problem is understanding what it means to be consciousness instead of thinking that you (the mind) are conscious. Consciousness is also the only thing that cannot be studied or measured, because it is the subject and not the object. It can never jump over the fence (metaphorically speaking because there is no fence, consciousness being all there is) and become an object, even though all objects subtle and gross arise from consciousness.
Anecdotally, the Higgs boson was (apparently) first referred to in frustration as that “goddamn particle” because physicists couldn’t find it but hypothesized that it had to exist. This name morphed into the “God particle” because of the particle’s spiritual implications – much to the chagrin of scientists who prefer the official name, and especially to the man who first theorized its existence (Peter Higgs), who must be decidedly unamused, as he’s a proclaimed atheist. Ha, ha, the joke’s on you, Pete.
The “God particle” nickname arose when the book The God Particle: If the Universe Is the Answer, What Is the Question? by Leon Lederman (great inquiry, we could tell them, if only they were qualified!!) was published. Since then it’s taken on a life of its own in part because of the monumental questions about matter that the God particle might be able to answer. All the same, there isn’t any religious intention behind the nickname. Peter Higgs first proposed his ideas 50 years ago, and it has taken until now for technology to catch up to finally identify the boson.
In layman’s terms, the Higgs boson is a subatomic particle that researchers long suspected existed but could not find, because it seemingly has no mass, no volume and no weight – they could only track its footprints (so to speak). The reason they knew it had to exist is that they figured out something had to be responsible for making particles stick together to form mass. The Higgs is difficult to observe because it is very unstable and breaks down very quickly. At the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland (CERN) protons are accelerated to almost the speed of light and smashed together. In one out of every 10 billion collisions, a Higgs boson will be formed. If one is formed, it cannot be observed directly, because it exists for such a short space of time before breaking down. Scientists record the remnants of the collision and work backwards, piecing together what particles came from the decay of the Higgs.
Scientists now know that the Higgs boson essentially holds the universe together. It creates a field which allows particles to bind together to form things, like stars and planets, cat’s whiskers and Donald Trump’s hair. Ugh. (Could Isvara not have at least find him a better hairdresser?!) It’s kind of like the cosmic magic glue of creation – although being so insubstantial itself. All stuff is made up of subatomic particles, and different subatomic particles are responsible for giving matter different properties. One of the most mysterious and important properties is mass. But why couldn’t mass just be assumed as a given? Hmm. Such a simple question – but very profound – that many don’t even think to ask it. Why indeed?
If science could only consult the sampradaya, we could explain this quite simply with the teaching on the pancikarina – how matter forms via the gunas. Matter forms when maya manifests and the three gunas arise from awareness. Sattva is the guna (intelligence) behind and inherent in creation, rajas the guna responsible for action or projection, tamas the guna responsible for physical substance. The pancikarina teaching, known to the Vedic seers for thousands of years, is profound, elegant and astounding in its detailed breadth of understanding – but sadly, unknown to the scientist. All the same, Isvara likes to keep some secrets, so some of the very fine details of creation become known only when the time is ripe. God does not play dice with the universe, as Einstein rightly proclaimed. Everything in creation is perfectly, brilliantly and intelligently designed by Isvara. The Higgs boson “discovery,” much like quantum physics, presents a new paradigm of thinking about the world of objects, from the scientific point of view. That model is called the “Higgs mechanism.”
The Higgs mechanism is all about understanding mass – which is not the same as volume or weight. (Note: mass is the actual quantity of material contained in a body; volume is how much space the body takes up and weight is the force exerted by gravity on that object.) Mass, volume and weight are measured either in the metric or standard systems of measurement, which are the same everywhere. Mass stands out, as it is independent of everything on and off the planet – whereas weight is different on earth or in space because gravity is not the same everywhere. Some particles, like protons and neutrons, have mass. Others, like photons, do not. Although many think that the Higgs boson, or “God particle,” is the particle which gives mass to other particles, thus creating matter – this is not technically correct. More precisely, the particle is a quantized manifestation of a field (the Higgs field) that generates mass through its interaction with other particles. Many Higgs bosons clumped together make up the Higgs field. The Higgs field is an invisible energy field present throughout the universe. It is the substance that fills all of the space-time which emerged at the birth of the universe and has acted as its own source of energy since then. Without the Higgs field, the universe would just be a cornucopia of individual particles zipping around at the speed of light; no atoms of any kind would exist, so the substance of matter would not be able to form. As the Higgs field is everywhere, all particles travel through it all the time. However, particles with a greater mass will interact more with the Higgs field than particles with a lower mass. This explains why two particles, which are the same size, can have different masses.
Scientists proved the existence of the Higgs boson a few years ago (thanks to the billion-dollar CERN particle accelerator built in Switzerland for this sole purpose), and now its discovery lends strong support to the Standard Model of particle physics, or the known rules of particle physics, that scientists believe govern the basic building blocks of matter. If only they understood Isvara!
The Higgs boson sounds like a great metaphor for consciousness, as it not only pervades all matter but gross matter would not manifest without it. Just like space, which pervades all matter and without it matter would have nothing to exist in. Except of course, as mysterious and all pervasive as the Higgs boson is, along with space, it is just another object known to consciousness. As with all of life, it arises from consciousness, is made up of consciousness and has a dependent existence on consciousness. Without consciousness, there is no Higgs boson or any other particle and therefore no space, no matter and no universe.
Since its discovery two years ago, the particle has been making waves in the physics community with all sorts of predications attached to it. Now that scientists measured the particle’s mass the Higgs boson turns out to be the precise mass needed to keep the universe on the brink of instability (do you hear the words rajas and tamas here?). But physicists say the delicate state will eventually collapse and the universe will become unstable, which will lead to its demise. (Yup, so what?) Now they can make many calculations, including one that seems to spell out the end of the universe. Yikes. They should have left well alone. It’s kind of like the scientists stumbled across Isvara’s signature on the cosmic blueprint of creation, but they don’t know what it means, because of course they don’t acknowledge a Creator or understand consciousness. They are so close yet so far off because they don’t know that although the universe exists it is not real. Much as the scientist would like to prove otherwise, as the universe exists in time, it had a beginning and so has to have an end. And awareness will be there to witness it.
Mia: Well, Sundari, wherever you are, I hope you are tickety-boo! Nice chatting to you… till next time… cheery-bye!
~ With love and smiles, Mia
Sundari: And I hope you are too.
~ Big hugs and much love, Sundari