Obligatory link: “Mystic Universe: An Introduction to Vedic Cosmology”.
So let’s see how we can compare the universe to a book, I hope it would help us solidify our understanding of the principles behind its creation. I should say that I don’t normally conceive of books the way author describes them but I can see where such description would be possible.
I’ll just copy this here:
The title of the book is the sound OM. The table of contents is the prakriti, the mahattattva is the title of each individual chapter, the different planetary systems are sections in the different chapters, the sentences are macroscopic objects in the planets, and the alphabets are the atomic particles. The book is organized and developed as a tree from concept to implementation, and the material creation is also organized and developed like a tree―from roots to leaves. The entire book is a description of God―i.e. His symbolic representation―and by reading this book correctly we can know the nature of God or the Ultimate Reality perfectly.
Most books I read are meant to be read from start to finish and they are not organized as trees, that’s my only complaint here. I should also say that this is NOT a description of the universe but of the entire material creation so our universe would be one of the chapters rather than the book itself. Still, the relationships between chapters and between sections in each chapter are unclear but I can live with that. It’s how different people understand this book that is important here.
To pantheists the universe itself is God while we say that it’s a description or an inverted reflection of God and God’s kingdom. The author therefore compares it to thinking that recipe is the food itself.
To impersonalists only the sound Oṁ is real, which means that this sound itself and whatever comes out of it – the universe – is meaningless and does not describe anything (since there’s no kingdom of God for them). They say there’s a sound but it doesn’t signify anything.
To voidists the universe is nothingness and while it exists it does not describe any previously existing concepts and does not have an author. I’m not sure I get the difference between impersonalists and voidists here in full but it doesn’t matter. In both cases they strip the universe or meaning while we say that it is nothing but expressions of meanings at each step of its creation.
To materialists the book exists but has only physical properties like height and weight but it has no meaning either.
All these misconceptions arise from not knowing parts of the universal reality, especially existence of God and meanings encoded in each universal phenomenon here. This happens when we consider only one corner of the universe, only minute details, and then try to reconstruct the whole from what little we know. It won’t work even if we consider all the material elements like mind and intelligence as real, what to speak of modern science that studies only physical matter, which is sense objects.
Materialistic approach to this book deserves further consideration, I believe. They see this book and they study what it is, they think that by looking at it they can figure out what it’s for, what its functions are etc. etc. What they see, however, is only book’s physical properties. They can say how heavy the book is, how tall it is when standing, how wide, and even how many pages are there. What happens next, however, totally baffles them.
From studying the pages they can figure out their chemical composition. The realize that there’s a difference between paper and ink and they recognize that ink squiggles have interesting and repeating shapes. From this they conclude that there are patterns and patterns mush have messages encoded in them.
What they fail to realize, however, is that these messages are pre-existing, that the meaning they assign to letters and words do not arise with this decoding but existed prior. In short, they fail to treat the book as a book.
When we compare the universe to a book we imply a great number of things – that the book has an author, that the author has ideas, that these ideas have been mulled over for a while and probably discussed with friends or on the internet, that they might have been published somewhere else before, and that if you know these ideas already you don’t really need to read the book. The book is also seen as the container of these ideas but it’s not their residing place as their manifestations can be found elsewhere – in electronic editions, for example, or there also are other copies of the same book. Ultimately, the ideas are in author’s head, and even then he is not really an author but he simply synthesized stuff he collected elsewhere, if not outright translated something.
All of this helps us understand how the book is a description of God, or rather an inverted tree reflecting the spiritual reality – doesn’t matter here. To materialists, however, the universe is NOT a book in this sense, they refuse to treat it as such, as an artifact representing someone’s ideas and meanings.
Yes, they can decode something, maybe even entire pages, but there’s no guarantee their extracted meaning matches that of the author, and there are infinitely more pages they haven’t even touched yet, and there are contradictions even between the pages they already think they’ve decoded.
How to make them see the universe as a book with all the underlying assumptions of what books are? I have no idea at the moment. They seem to be very resilient to such possibility. In fact, they made their goal to stay firmly in the boundaries of physical world and explicitly reject any notion of a higher meaning, and not only that, but they won’t go to sleep until they can disprove necessity for such meanings in any observed phenomenon.
Their desire is not only to ignore the “book” aspect of the universe but to argue against it at all costs. If that’s what they really want, what can we do? There are people among them who are open to possibilities but finding them is a tough job. Ultimately, however, it’s these open minded individuals who can help us move Vedic understanding of the universe forward. We need them to build a strong and reliable framework based on this philosophy of Sāṅkhya, how it’s mind over matter and meanings all the way.
If we have this framework then we can point to unsolvable problems in modern science and attribute them to their faulty framework. So far they say that it might be deficient but it’s the best we have, and they cite successful predictions and practical applications based on this. We used to have yoga to show how Sāṅkhya works in real life but not anymore. For now all we have is a plausible explanation of the universe that should work for devotees. Changing the minds of materialistic scientists is still too far away.