Vanity thought #1772. VC – keep your head level at all times

Link: “Mystic Universe: An Introduction to Vedic Cosmology”.

The last chapter in the section on Vedic view of causality is very short so it’s very likely that I’ll start the next section today. The injunction to keep balance, however, is applicable to both, as I hope to demonstrate later.

We’ll start with “Theory of Balance” as it applies in ayurveda. Too much of kaphā can cause rigidity in the system and nothing can move, just like an obese person can’t function normally. Too much pitta means “paralysis by analysis”, in author’s words. There are tons of genuine ayurvedic symptoms of pitta imbalance and to me they look like they all relate to excessive processing creating extra “fire”. Pitta works on producing contingent details out of abstracts of kaphā. It takes things and breaks them down, releasing energy in the process. This “breaking down” can, indeed, be described as analyzing larger concepts and converting them into collection of details. If this is all what the body does then it can lead to “paralysis by analysis”. Makes sense. Vāta means changes and excess of it manifests as instability in all aspects and improper coordination of various functions.

The point is that imbalance of any of the three is called disease in ayurveda and it’s for this reason that kaphā, vāta, and pitta are not called guṇas but doṣas instead. In Vedic terms guṇa signify good qualities while doṣa bad. When qualities are in balance they are guṇas, when they go off-kilter they become doṣas. “Everything is good in moderation,” as they say. The author also says that kaphā, vāta, and pitta are related not only to gross bodies but manifest themselves in the mind as well, and in any kind of organism or organisation, too.

In a business company kaphā is the big goals and goal posts set by top management and sales and marketing, pitta is engineers working on translating this big vision into products and services, and vāta, or prāṇa, is the operations department that keeps it all in proper motion. If kaphā predominates then the company becomes big on announcements but short on delivery. If pitta predominates then engineers lose the sight of the goal and come up with tons of irrelevant stuff. If prāṇa predominates then everyone is made to run around like headless chicken and nothing gets accomplished at all. That’s my rendering of that paragraph and I think it’s pretty close to author’s own words.

The point is that kaphā, pitta, and vāta are universal and manifest in every system, not just our bodies, and that we should always keep them in proper balance. And that’s how the section ends.

Next we get to problems of modern cosmology and the first chapter is the overview of the Big Bang theory. It has a Gītā quote as an epigraph and I noticed that it’s taken from “as it is” 1972 edition, not the current BBT version. I hope it doesn’t mean that the author is on the same “no editing allowed” bandwagon as serial offenders from ex-ISKCON circles. The possibility that the author holds a critical view of BBT policies should not be discounted, however. It means that when we look at his work we should always be alert to whether it fully complies with our siddhānta or not. So far it deals with subjects that are not controversial but the explanation of “free will” offered here opens the door for disagreements.

I’m saying this to stress importance of balance, and I need a reminder of it myself – I can’t forget Śrīla Prabhupāda’s explanation of our philosophy in lieu of Sāṅkhya. As soon as Sāṅkhya as presented in the book becomes at odds with our teachings it needs to be reconciled one way or another, we shouldn’t take it for granted and we shouldn’t take it as an authority over Prabhupāda.

The short story of Big Bang is another example of the need for balance. The author’s version looks generally okay to me but when he says that the universe was created from “nothing” (even if “nothing” is in quotes) I bet lots of scientifically educated people would disagree. Btw, the previous chapter contained a spelling mistake in a phrase “..the observer is changings its mental..” and the last sentence of the first paragraph in this chapter has an unnecessary comma: “The nature of this ‘nothing’ and why it exploded in the first place, remains the subject of much debate and research to this day.” I don’t think I’ve seen any editing errors elsewhere and two of them appearing so close to each other are easily noticeable. I’m a sucker for unnecessary commas myself but my ramblings here are not a published book.

The next paragraph presents an overview of how different theories fit together – gravitation governs the behavior of stars and galaxies and when the matter is condensed it falls into the domain of quantum theory. After Einstein came up with theory of general relativity in 1915 our views on what gravity is changed dramatically. It’s not longer a force, as it has been thought of since Newton times, and its propagation isn’t instant either. So now we have general relativity for stars and big objects and quantum theory for everything else. It appears that quantum theory can explain behavior of our everyday macroscopic objects but we, as a whole, are not yet ready to talk about “two trains leaving station A” in the language of quantum particles. It becomes mindbogglingly complex.

Next the author discusses implications of the universe starting with a huge explosion. In Einstein’s time people thought the universe was static but if it started with a massive expansion then all kinds of scenarios become possible. We have the energy that drives the stars apart and we have gravity that pulls them back together. Is their speed enough to escape the gravitational pull of the rest of the universe? If it isn’t they are ought to come back and collapse into each other like failed rocket launches into space. If they are fast enough it would mean the universe is expanding.

The author demonstrates several scenarios – Big Crunch, where the universe expands initially but then stars are pulled back and collapse, Flat Expansion where initial blast eventually evens out with gravitation and universe becomes stable, Open Expansion where the universe expands but at a steady rate, and Accelerated Expansion where gravity pull becomes weaker and weaker and stars speed up to expand universal frontiers faster and faster.

I’ll leave history of scientific experiments to confirm or reject any of these models for another time.


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