My commentary on “Mystic Universe: An Introduction to Vedic Cosmology” has reached a series of chapters explaining deficiencies of modern science, how they rely on assumptions that are fundamentally wrong and so all the theories they produce from these assumptions will always be inadequate.
Yesterday I got to the criticism of the parallax method of calculating distances to stars. The assumption made in this method is that the space is uniform and linear, that light goes in a straight line from one cosmic object to another. In a semantic universe such straight lines do not exist. One would have to go up the semantic tree until he reaches the node where he can take another branch leading to his destination. Perhaps it’s time for an illustration:
A and B look very close here, which means semantically they are not very different, and C and D look farther apart, but to travel from A to B takes longer than to travel from C to D because one needs to go up to the higher node on the tree. We can also see here how semantic connections might cross each other without creating a crossing node. On a political spectrum it could be a situation where generally leftist Democrats might find some of their members to the right of some Republicans, who are generally rightist. They come from different ideologies taking different directions but due to variations within each ideology some overlap might take place. This might not be permissible in the current partisan US politics but one can compare modern Republicans and Democrats with Reagan to see this overlap.
The main point of this illustration, however, is that semantic proximity does not mean shorter semantic travel time. As an example we can imagine a museum where two space rockets from fifty years ago, one US and one Soviet, are displayed side by side. To an observer they look pretty much the same and they perform same tasks, indicating semantic proximity. A scientifically minded can measure the differences – the size of the engines, the composition of materials, paints, electric wiring, nuts, bolts, etc. That would be an equivalent of measuring distance to the Moon using scientific approach – telescopes, whatever they use now.
However, despite these similarities, it would have been impossible for Americans to build a Soviet rocket and for Soviets to build an American because their approaches to manufacturing were fundamentally different. One used metric and another imperial measurements, for example, meaning that it would have been impossible to get the exact size of each component right without switching their entire industrial complex to another system. Where is that fork in history where Americans decided to stay imperial while the rest of the world went metric? Two hundred years ago?
Another irreconcilable difference lies in socialist vs capitalist systems, a split started in the 19th century. These systems rely on different motivations which means people involved in the production of space rockets had very different experiences and pursued very different goals. One system relies on greed to force people to make sacrifices and improvements in exchange for material benefits, another uses party ideology and doesn’t promise any rewards whatsoever.
There were overlaps, too – both worked for their country and both were partial to boasting, both wanted to be Number One in the world, but that is irrelevant to our discussion here. The point is that for Soviets to build an American rocket they would have to go two hundred years back in time and construct their entire society in a very different way. Despite semantic similarity between two rockets the semantic distance between them is huge.
Another point is that while two rockets might be considered as two fixed semantic objects, comparing them side by side, which I likened to measuring distance to the Moon, is different from explaining their semantic ancestry and is negotiated by different semantic entities, and is not as straightforward as it looks. The ability to measure things depends on the demigods controlling eyesight and touch and interpreting the observations depends on some other demigods, too. It means that we need to use a different part of the overall tree of the universe that has different connections, different nodes, and different paths linking the same two rockets.
In the illustration above we’d need to add some more nodes with more connections to separate attempts at physical measurements from connections that created the Moon and the Earth (or A and B) in the first place. In any case, it won’t be a straight line because there will be brains, eyes, telescopes and so many other things in between.
In Vedic cosmology the light from a distant star does not travel to our eyes in a straight line but goes through a series of connections, and it’s passage is mostly negotiated by Śiśumara system of planets that will be explained later in the book. The slight change in the position of the star against the background that is the basis of the parallax method becomes meaningless if the light does not travel in a straight line, as science assumes.
To know actual distances between cosmic objects, even on the physical plane, we need to know semantic paths traversed by light, which is revealed in Vedic cosmology but is hidden for modern astronomers. Plus travelling to these destinations is not going to be along the same path as taken by the light, and getting their in the Vedic way – by being born on that planet and being able to enjoy all it has to offer is totally different, too.
In the next chapter the book talks about false assumptions in Euclidean geometry that forms the basis of all our understanding of space and the universe (general relativity modified some of Euclidean postulates but not all). The very first postulate is that the space is a collection of points and each point can be connected to any other by a straight line. The book rejects this postulate on the grounds that the points themselves are not a priori real but are rather results of processes by which they are created. There are no lines between them either – only adding or abstracting details to “travel” up and down the semantic tree. Unless this process of abstraction and detailing is completed the end point does not even exist.
In Euclidean geometry we can draw a line between a chair and a table but in Vedic universe chairs and tables are objects of different types and has to be connected trough a more abstract concept of “furniture”. Science discards this difference in types and creates a flat and linear model of space instead, but it’s not the space described in Śrīmad Bhāgavatam and we have to keep this difference in mind when we want to present a Vedic model of the universe.
Vedic space consists of objects AND the methods used to produce them. The same method can be used to produce many different objects and the same objects can be produced in many different ways, so to know the object in Vedic space one needs to know not only what it is but HOW it was produced and from WHICH abstract idea. The starting abstract idea in this case is represented by sattva-guṇa, the process applied to this idea is represented by rajo-guṇa, and the resulting object is a manifestation of tamo-guṇa. This object then becomes a starting point, an abstract governed by sattva for the next round of creation where rajo-guṇa is applied to it and tamo-guṇa produces a new, contingent object with more details than the original.
Euclidean view of space is “one-dimensional” instead because it disregards TYPES of the objects and METHODS by which they were produced. This deficiency becomes apparent even in the science itself when it comes to quantum level where we can’t know both the location and the state of a particle at the same time, and neither the locations nor states of particles are continuous, as assumed in Euclidean vision of space. That’s why quantum mechanics is so counter-intuitive for someone who grew up on school level geometry and Newtonian physics.
There’s a lot more to follow on this topic but all in due time.