Vanity thought #1792. VC – from thermos to quantos

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

Continuing where I left off. The chapter is about unifying theories of nature but so far it’s been mostly about thermodynamics. Yesterday I said that the author has a clear preference of quantum theory and this seems to be the way science goes, too, but today the flow is reverse – the book inducts insights from thermodynamics into quantum mechanics and does it via “semantic theory of information” – my words, google returns not quite what I have in mind. It would be nice if the book had a catchy name for this theory that solves everything but it isn’t there. Or rather it’s just another presentation of Sāṅkhya done in a contemporary language, which is a good thing because Sāṅkhya is authoritative.

Last time we left on brief description of weirdness of thermodynamic exchanges. They are not weird to us as observers and users of thermodynamics for our entire lives but they are weird for science because energy transfer goes only one way – from hot to cold – and never the other, and because energy can never be transferred in full. Incidentally, there’s a homeless woman whose baby froze to death as she was holding it in Portland a few days ago. The meme created out of this story uses a photo of a homeless man from a couple of years ago so it’s a fake. The point was that we deal with transferring heat all the time, just don’t think about it much.

Now I can’t use the word “body” when talking about thermodynamics but I don’t see any other choice. So, particles comprising a body might look alike from a science point of view but they might also carry different levels of information. These levels build up as they go from abstract to contingent and so if contingent information is present then it must include its abstract, and if we remove the abstract then the contingent layer would collapse, too.

Comparatively speaking, the hot body has both abstract and contingent levels of detail but a cold body has only abstract. When they come in contact only the contingent information is transferred from the hot body to the cold until both come to the same level of abstraction. At these point both objects have the same information and no further exchanges are possible or even necessary.

In classical physics information can be sent out regardless of whether it’s needed or not – like a light bulb which shines in all directions even when you leave the room. In semantic theory this is not possible and information transfer happens only when some of it is missing AND required. We require only stuff that we don’t have – we can’t require something we already possess, but we don’t require all of what is missing. So information must be missing first and then required as the next logical step. Then information transfer could occur. In case of two bodies in thermodynamics when they reach the same temperature there’s no missing information in either of the systems so transfer stops because of the first rule – information mush be missing.

This is where the books shifts to quantum theory and plugs it with what is missing there. Two quantum systems must be connected, or entangled in QT speak, one of them must have more information than the other, and the other must need that information so that it becomes missing and required. Only when these conditions are satisfied energy/information transfer will take place.

Current quantum theory doesn’t get that. It can’t predict neither when the particles will be emitted nor where exactly they would go. The question of where does not really arise because QT assumes that a particle/wave would fly out and will be absorbed by whatever happens to be in its path. Thermodynamics tells us that it’s all wrong – first two systems must come in contact and once that happens the when, where, and what will be exchanged will become fixed as well and we’ll know everything.

Apparent randomness and unpredictability of quantum behavior is, therefore, caused by us not knowing how two systems become entangled. I don’t think this is accepted as an obvious reason in current quantum theory but the author’s long term goal here is to propose a solution to this problem of random entanglement, which lies in semantic interpretation of karma.

Abbreviating all this we get source S, destination D, and cause C. Unless C brings S and D together they have potential for exchange but it doesn’t happen – probably because without C they are not designated as actual S and D yet, they are just “things”. In thermodynamics C is a choice to put hot and cold bodies together. In quantum theory objects don’t have to be physically close and C has to create a channel between S and D through which information can transfer. Once the channel is established information is transferred immediately. The role of causality in nature, therefore, is establishing and breaking up these channels. The author says that these channels are like roads on which information travels and that they might exist without being attached to any particular pair of source and destination. This last part is a bit unclear but okay, no biggie.

Bringing relativity into a fold, as the chapter intended, the implications of this model for cosmology are huge – light from the stars doesn’t shine in all directions equally and it hasn’t been travelling to us for billions of years. Rather it’s transmitted instantaneously as soon as a channel between the star (S) and us (D) is established. Stars don’t spam the universe with their light but rather send it to those for whom it was intended and assigned by the cause C.

Time involved in this process is spend on absorbing the light, not on its travel. It takes time for us to process the received information and come to a state when it becomes part of our system, but it’s not longer than our lifetime. To us this absorbed information manifests as life experiences. When we finally “see” the light we think it happened just now but, in fact, light has been received earlier and we were just processing it. It’s like the “aha” moment when reading a book – it takes time to process the words and realize it’s important.

The last paragraph sums it all up. As promised, there’s a unification of three fundamental theories of nature but no one theory gets to be a winner. Information transfer must happen when there’s a channel between the source and the destination. and it’s established by a third party and it’s this third agency that is missing from all branches of modern science. There’s also an interesting addition that it’s not our entire body that must receive the information but only the part which is connected to a channel. The same information, therefore, can create different experiences in us depending on how exactly the channels are created what they are connected to. To figure it all out science needs a theory of channel establishment. We have one in Sāṅkhya but it’s not the time to bring it up yet.

Vanity thought #1791. VC – No Unity In Diversity

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

Before moving on to the next chapter I want to say a few words about this book and potential “problems” with it. As a rule, it has no supporting quotes for its assertions about Sāṅkhya or Śrīmad Bhāgavatam whatsoever. How can we be sure that this is really what Sāṅkhya says? If we check the content of Śāṅkhya related chapters in the Third Canto we might not even recognize what is presented here. The answer is that it’s not so much the quotes that we need but thorough understanding of principles – principles on which we can already easily agree.

We all know that we change bodies, for example, but how many of us pursue this principle logically to realize that our bodies do not move through space from one end of the room to another, that this motion is only an illusion, and so our models of space which are built on it are an illusion, and that out entire grade school curriculum on geometry or physics is just one big lie. That’s why Śrīla Prabhupāda dismissed Moon travel a full decade before it happened, before coming to America. In Vedic science travel means changing of bodies, you change into a moon body and you are on the Moon. You don’t change into a moon body and you aren’t. Very simple.

How many quotes do we need to realize that? None, we already know everything we need to know, we just don’t think deep enough about it.

Another example – all empirically perceptive sense objects are created to match living beings desires for sensations – they do not exist independently or objectively. None of them. One might object that he remembers nothing like that from chapters on Sāṅkhya but one need not to search that far – Prabhupāda’s Introduction to Bhagavad Gītā is enough:

    When we see wonderful things happening in the cosmic nature, we should know that behind this cosmic manifestation there is a controller. Nothing could be manifested without being controlled. It is childish not to consider the controller. For instance, a child may think that an automobile is quite wonderful to be able to run without a horse or other animal pulling it, but a sane man knows the nature of the automobile’s engineering arrangement.

It’s a simple principle that underwrites the entire creation. Nothing could be manifested without being controlled. Nothing appears on its own. So what if Prabhupāda only mentions Kṛṣṇa as the ultimate controller without describing controllers in between, like Lord Brahmā? This is a simple principle that we all sort of know but don’t really understand so we think that planets, stars, rocks, minerals, oceans etc are “dead” matter and we accept scientific explanations for them that don’t require neither God nor any kind of consciousness to produce. Maybe in their bubble they don’t but all it means is that they don’t know the whole truth about this process, which means they are in illusion and have only slight connection to reality. So are we, but at least we have proper sources of knowledge which we can utilize if we want to understand true nature of things or at least understand how and where science goes off track.

Back to the book. There are three major theories in science – quantum theory for small stuff, thermodynamics for our size stuff, and relativity for universe size stuff. Each of them emerged from classical physics which were linear and deterministic. Quantum mechanics is still linear but non-deterministic, relativity is deterministic but non-linear, and thermodynamics has become neither linear nor deterministic. Interesting classification but if you don’t immediately recall what the difference between linear and non-linear is it kind of loses its effect. I’d volunteer to say that in linear systems output is directly proportional to input but if you want to figure out if that is a sufficient definition and all the implications of major theories branching out this particular way you are on your own.

The point is that there’s no one theory that could describe all phenomena. The author here demonstrates a slant towards quantum theory to be the one science that rules them all. In the previous chapters we’ve seen how interpreting light from stars in the quantum way leads to discarding corner stones of relativity such as constant speed of light and judging distances to the stars by their luminosity. Today it’s thermodynamics way to be defeated by the mighty quanta.

As far as I know, this has already been done and there’s a tentative way to express thermodynamics through the theory of quantum fields but this should be interesting anyway.

First there’s a description of principal differences between classical physics and thermodynamics. In classical physics when two objects collide it’s possible that one of them transfers all its energy to the other, like one billiard ball could hit another and stop itself. This never happens in thermodynamics. If you bring two bodies together, one hot one cold, the hot one will never ever transfer all of its energy to the cold one. They’d rather reach the state of equilibrium where they both become warm. In classical physics two object hit each other with an equal force. The smaller one feels a greater effect than the big one but there’s an effect on both. In thermodynamics cold body doesn’t transfer any energy to the hotter one, it all goes one way – from hot to cold.

The book explains this one sided and never complete energy transfer in the language of Sāṅkhya as it has been formulated in the earlier section of the book – there are abstract objects and adding information to them creates contingent objects with greater level of detail. Are there any quotes for that? Not that I know of but it’s restating familiar Sāṅkhya’s processes about three guṇas producing one element out of the other in a different language, that’s all.

Matter is thus constructed from layers of information. There are layers of abstract information to which details are added to create the next layer. Some particles, which we think bodies are made of, might look the same but if they carry different levels of information they belong to different layers – some to abstract and some to contingent. Since contingent information is produced from abstract then existence of a contingent symbol means there should exist an abstract symbol already. And if you remove the abstract then contingent will collapse, too.

Next comes the actual explanation of heat transfer but I’m afraid it’s too long to start it now. Another day.

Vanity thought #1788. VC – Wave Good Bye

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

Next chapter in the book is called “Remnants of Wave Theory”, but before I move on I have another idea related to yesterday’s post and I want to put it down to paper while it’s still fresh. The discussion was about instant rather than constant speed of light and the illusion of one body moving through space rather than the soul taking succession of new bodies. The illusion of movement gave rise to the illusion of space, and I mean our 3D, physical space, and then building entire modern science on this illusory perception.

But “science works, b*tches!” – in immortal words of Richard Dawkins. Okay, but it works in the same way Fun Fiction works, too. Fan Fiction is literature produced by fans of comic books or movies. Fans love their characters and stories and the world their fictional heroes live and they can’t get enough of it so they don’t wait for official releases of new comics or movie sequels but rather create their own stories filling the gaps or taking characters on new adventures. These new stories go through a peer review process and if they pass, that is they don’t break the rules of the original “universe” and don’t deviate from character roles, they are declared “canonical”. They become a part of the “canon” even if they are not included into the officially released narrative.

The original stories that fans come to love are real, they satisfy fans desires, and Fan Fiction satisfies their desires just the same. Some of it is not up to scratch but some of it really works, so good Fan Fiction is as real as the original. The only difference is that with fiction we know that it’s just a story from the start but with science we don’t, though children believing in Santa Claus are an example that not all story telling is taken as an illusion. There was just nobody around to tell Ancient Greeks that their idea of space was illusory and if there were these people were not taken seriously. And now, two thousand years on, we continue to treat this scientific fan fiction as real, but so do people who go to Comic-Con dressed up as Star Wars characters.

Our science based civilization is pretty old but it’s by no means the only civilization built on distinct worldviews. In fact, science started to matter to people only in a last couple of hundred years because before that they relied on their faith in Christ as the reason for their prosperity. Over in Asia there were huge empires that lasted for hundreds of years and they relied on their faith in different Gods, from Allah to Viṣṇu to Śiva to Kali to Buddha. They didn’t know our science and they were very prosperous and they naturally thought that it was because they figured out how the world works and how to get God’s favors.

Now we think they were stupid and we are the ones who know the real secret, and we call it science. We also think that scientific progress will be linear and defy the rule that everything that comes up must come down and all empires eventually crumble. Sure, those other empires crumbled – because they didn’t know the secret but we do and so we are immune. Well, western civilization is already crumbling. Science needs freedom and democracy to prosper, we’ve been told, but democracy had lost its shine in many parts of the world already and as the world looks at the rise of Trump or Brexit it really starts to think that Chinese or Putin models are superior. Russians just negotiated a peace deal in Syria without inviting Americans, and China, Russia, and Pakistan recently had a negotiation over Afghanistan to curb influence of India there and no one missed Americans at that meeting either. Some say that the world as we know it already over, we just don’t realize it yet.

So, modern science is like Fan Fiction – started from an illusion, created more of it, and it works for the purpose. It doesn’t work for self-realization nor for approaching God just like we don’t expect Star Wars to be useful for our jobs.

Back to the book. This is a section on problems in modern science but the chapter starts without accusing science of anything in particular. Before quantum theory people thought light was a wave, like a wave generated by a stone dropped in a pond, and as a wave it propagated in all directions equally. With quantum theory it was confirmed that this model of propagation is incorrect and photons do not arrive at all equidistant locations simultaneously. Okay, sounds believable, but the next sentence needs more information, I think.

The author says that there’s an order in the arrival of photons which quantum theory cannot predict. Maybe so but I have never heard of this problem before and I don’t know how to google it either. Then the book seamlessly switches to a description of a slit experiment. Ah, I know about those, I think, but slit experiments usually demonstrate that light, ie photons, can behave both like waves and like particles. This aspect is completely ignored in the book and something else steals all the focus instead. When light passes through slits, as a wave, I might add, it creates a pattern of interference – one wave breaks into many – and when these new mini-waves reach the screen they leave a pattern of lighter and darker bands, as I would expect many converging waves would. It’s not the kind of slit experiment I was expecting but okay, let’s move on because this is where it gets interesting.

Bright and dark bands show luminosity of light in that location. The number of slits corresponds to measurement procedure and the pattern of bands corresponds to outcome of that procedure, and the point is that if we change the number of slits we change the pattern of bands, too, even though the original light stays the same. The real point is that the outcome of observation depends on the method of observation, not only on the observed object itself.

The author says that there’s much debate whether we should consider slits as part of the measuring instrument, like he does here, or part of the measured system. He then gives a link to another book on the subject where he discusses it at length and I’m not going to follow that link for now, I have enough books on my plate as it is.

The rest of the chapter discusses implications of this crucial point – what we see is not what IS but depends on HOW we look at it, too, and this time it’s demonstrated scientifically, not just from observation of human interactions. Unfortunately, it has to be continued on another day.

Vanity thought #1787. VC – fast as lightning

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

The next chapter in the book deals with the speed of light. It’s one of the most daring challenges the author throws to science. It sounds convincing but it also calls for accompanying math in support of it. I don’t know anyone who has time and the ability to provide “proofs”.

“Proofs” were central to the story of Ramanujan, a brilliant Indian mathematician who became a Fellow of Royal Society of London. His mathematical theories were revolutionary, they worked in practice, but Ramanujan was seen as too lazy to provide “proofs” and when he did they weren’t very impressive. The thing was that theories were manifested to him by his worshipable deity while “proofs” he had to supply on his own, hence a mismatch in quality.

Anyway, the chapter starts with a brief history of the problem. When Newton postulated his law of gravity it was thought that it works on distant objects instantaneously but later experiments proved that it was not the case. The cause of gravity manifested its effect with a delay. The solution was that the cause travels as some sort of a particle and so it takes time for it to reach its destination and create the effect. In modern science these traveling particles are called bosons – photons and such.

Then came the discovery of the constant speed of light which doesn’t depend on whether the observer travels towards the cause or not. This is a little bit of a gray area. I myself got very interested in this about ten years ago and pondered all sorts of paradoxes derived from this – how things become shorter or longer, how time runs faster or slower, how twins age differently and many more. I thought I got it but there was always some new twist that made no sense to me no matter how much I knew about this already. In the end I just gave up and now, ten years later, I can’t force myself to relive through that nightmare again.

With this experience being a chip on my shoulder I’m hesitant to endorse book’s presentation of this problem. I’m pretty sure if it was shown to actual physicists someone would find something to object, casting the accusation that the author doesn’t know special relativity and physics in general. I’m not going to get in between because, in my experience, both parties would accuse me of being stupid just to relieve themselves. When someone doesn’t want to answer his accusers directly I’m not going to be a messenger either. It would make me into everybody’s enemy.

In any case, the way the book states the problem is novel. In quantum theory photons do not travel through space in a traditional sense but rather hop from one fixed position to another with no stages in between. I want to drift away here for a bit because this is important.

Being conditioned souls we are unaware that we are accepting new bodies every moment of our lives. We agree that our bodies change from youth to adulthood to old age and as devotees we accept that after death of one body we will take another, and we theoretically accept that we take a new body every second, too, but we do not realize this practically.

When I pace up and down the room, chanting my rounds, I believe that it’s the same body that does the walking and travels through space. Everybody does. Based on this illusion we form our idea of three dimensional space where our bodies and all other objects can move around. Each point in this space can be connected to any other point by a straight line and, while traveling along this line, objects pass through the infinite number of locations, infinite number of points on the line.

From segments of such lines we can make triangles and squares and then we can create coordinate systems and move these shapes freely around, transform them, rotate them, skew them and so on. We still think that it’s the same object that we can manipulate in any way we want and this forms the basis of all our science – objects have properties and these properties can change their values. In geometry the properties could be locations and sizes, in Newtonian physics we can add momentum and speed, in electrodynamics we can change objects’ charge, and in relativity we can change objects mass, too.

This is all plain wrong from the perspective of Vedic science. It’s not the same body that moves through space, it’s a succession of new bodies, each slightly different and each with its own set of sensations. We watch these bodies like we watch a movie, which is also a succession of still images, and then we mistakenly interpret it as movement and from this interpretation we create a model of space. This space is illusory, there’s a new body with a new set of sensory values, there’s not traveling, no distance between things – it’s all in our minds.

There’s also a science of changing these bodies and the role our consciousness, time, and karma plays in all this but it’s not a subject for today.

So, quantum theory finally got this part right – there’s no smooth movement, photons hop from one position to another and there’s a fixed number of hops between the source and the observer. If the observer starts hopping towards the photon there will be less hops to be made before they meet, and how does the photon know the observer is approaching? Why would it slow down? How can the number of hops become smaller? What’s going on here? The book states that this is a problem that science doesn’t acknowledge yet. Maybe it is, but what comes next is the most interesting proposition here.

The light does not take any time to travel at all. Information is passed through space (which is an illusory concept, as explained above) instantaneously but what takes time is for the recipient to absorb this information and change his state, or rather his body, to a new one where this information appears as already absorbed.

This solution is simple and elegant and I think it’s brilliant. The rest of the chapter gives examples how this principle already works in everyday life. A teacher’s lesson, for example, is absorbed at different speed by different students depending on their background knowledge and the speed with which words reach their ears, ie speed of light, is irrelevant. What matters is how long it would take for a student to change from his current body to a body where the lesson has been learned, and this works across the whole universe.

There’s no point in measuring distance to stars and planets anymore, it doesn’t exist because light does not take any time to travel at all, and so our 3D model of space becomes redundant. What effect this explanation would have on modern science? Which formulas need to be adjusted? Is it even possible? I don’t think anyone knows the answer to these questions or has the ability and time to figure out the answers. It takes time for us to change from a state where these answers are unknown to a state where they trivial, and that state might not be in our karma at all.

Vanity thought #1771. VC – prana and trajectories

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

As I mentioned at the end of the previous post, the rest of the chapter talks about trajectories. I thought I knew the word but it turns out the author uses it in a complicated way. Trajectories will come up again in later chapters on time and it was even more confusing there. There are plenty of highlighted failings of the modern science, too, and the caveat I mentioned yesterday still applies – not everything attributed to science in this book will be agreed on by scientists.

The very first sentence introducing trajectories goes like this: “The existence of prāna is like the trajectories that exist independent of particles.” Uh-huh. Is “independent of particles” important here? What other trajectories are there? Or does it simply state the obvious to remind us that trajectories are independent of particles? Are they? Never thought of it this way. Next few sentences aren’t very helpful either. I can understand how we conceive trajectories as a collection of consecutive locations taken by objects as they move but not much more than that. “Motion” has been denied here, I guess for the reason that will become clearer in the next paragraph, and otherwise it’s something something something and there’s not causality. Prāṇa is also a trajectory but not that of the objects, it’s the trajectory of the observer as he moves through the experiences of his life. Mmkay.

In quantum theory objects have discrete states and therefore we cannot talk about their motion in the conventional sense. How an object jumps from one state to another cannot be described either. In fact, we can’t be sure that it’s the same object that is doing the jumping and so we cannot talk about continuity of the succession of states either. We can only talk about the succession of our observations. In other words, the author says, it’s not the objects that go from state to state but it’s the observer who is moving from one state to another. It’s not the particle that unites the succession of the states but the observer. This is where prāṇa comes in – it does not describe motion of particles but the experiences of the observer. Prāṇa is a trajectory of the souls and not the motion of particles, and it carries the soul from one state to another.

This idea is simple enough but then we must remember that “states” in the Vedic world can be different levels of abstraction and we can have experiences even when the body doesn’t move. Prāṇa, however, works only on the gross body, not on the mind. It is a product of the mind, as I understand, and the author says that controlled prāṇa can help regulate the mind, too. What prāṇa generally works on is senses and sense objects and it moves them under control of karma, which is under control of time.

Like in quantum theory, it’s not one body that moves from state to state but the soul that takes shelter of one body after another at every step, as created by prāṇa. We sense continuity and talk about one body living through life experiences and the author compares it to the illusion of motion picture which is made up of multiple stationary frames changing very fast. The old body is a state of senses and sense objects that becomes unmanifest and the current body is the currently manifested state, but it’s not the same body as the old – that’s an illusion.

In science the succession of consecutive locations in space was used to create the illusion of “motion” but, because of quantum theory, we can’t talk about it in these terms anymore. Science doesn’t know what connects different states but Sāṅkhya says it’s the observer, the soul. It’s the soul that moves from body to body. This travel is caused by prāṇa, which is controlled by karma, which is controlled by time.

At the time of death prāṇa detaches abstract concepts like the mind from their contingent details (bodies) and carries the soul to a place where new details are developed as a new body. This agency of prāṇa is known as transmigration of souls in Vedic world but it’s not understood in modern science, which leads to the collapse of causality in any movement.

This would be a good place to introduce new concepts into science, the author says, but so far we can remain very skeptical whether science will embrace any new notions coming from Hinduism, of all places. Nevertheless, the need is there and they can dance around their problems only for so long. In Vedic theory the trajectory, path, or process is unrelated to properties of objects and the “force” that moves the observer through the succession of states is not the same as force field in science either. Force fields in science can only put objects in stationary states and so they have causality missing from the picture. This causality can be explained by introducing prāṇa.

The author then says that science has an equivalent of kaphā – fermions, which are actual particles of matter. Science also has bosons, which are particles of force, and they represent pitta – the force that subdivides, the energy that can be seen as information needed to create contingent objects. What science is lacking is vata, I guess, but the author says it rather needs prāṇa, which is trajectories without objects. The author says that we can visualize these trajectories in our minds but we can’t directly observe them, we can only see them through their effects – changes to the bodily states.

The collapse of causality in quantum theory is because they are trying to measure what cannot be measured – prāṇa is not a material object but a trajectory of material objects (or rather trajectory of the observer).

Śrīmad Bhāgavatam talks about celestial objects being moved by the “ropes of wind”. “Ropes” are paths and “wind” is prāṇa that moves planets along them. I’m not fully satisfied with the distinction made here but I totally agree with author’s main point – this “wind” of Bhāgavatam is not the “air” element of Sāṅkhya and it’s not gravitational force field of science either. It’s this wind that explains causality of movement because both matter and energy are inert. As I typed this I realized that the fact of energy being inert hasn’t sunk in yet. I still think that energy signifies movement. In quantum theory energy is released when an object changes its state in a certain way but the cause of that change is missing. Now we found it and it’s in our karma. Prāṇa is the agency that fulfills it.

Vanity thought #1770. VC – Ayurveda and quanta

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

Last two chapters were short and sweet but the next one is long and big on ideas. It’s also one of those you can’t easily go public with because someone will always say you get it wrong and claim superior knowledge of the subject. It’s hard to deal with these objections because the fact that they know more doesn’t mean they don’t draw wrong conclusions from their knowledge but they don’t accept the possibility of being wrong and are always full of themselves. They, basically, say that “I know more and therefore you have to trust me” and the only response I can think of is to find other authorities who come to different conclusions and that from my point of view those authorities sound more authoritative. Still, unless you know the subject yourself you can’t claim that any proposed authority correctly reflects the current state of the field.

First, it looks like the chapter will be about Aurveda as the author describes kaphā, vāta, and pitta. He calls them “three modes” but it quickly becomes obvious that these modes are not guṇas from the previous chapter. He rather classifies them in terms of Sāṅkhya. Kaphā is the ideas, vāta is prāṇa, and pitta doesn’t get a comparison of its own. “Ideas” here doesn’t mean workings of the mind but ideas of the semantic tree – abstract objects which become symbols to be elaborated on as the next step. These “ideas” are not tied up to any particular kind of matter, gross or subtle, but a distinction made for each stage of creation. The author says that it is the cause of form and structure in the body – muscles, bones, blood, fat etc. I think he means the general idea of fat or bones from which actual body parts are grown but it’s not clear.

Vāta is prāṇa and it causes things in the body to move and change and includes processes such as digestion, circulation, or elimination. Vāta, just as prāṇa, is all about processes rather than things.

Pitta is associated with metabolism and is responsible for breaking things down – digesting food and breaking it apart into small particles, basic amino-acids and such. Pitta takes bigger, abstract ideas, and divides them into smaller memes. It creates details of abstractions. The author doesn’t link it to kaphā here even though it naturally follows. I think it’s because pitta doesn’t create actual bones from the idea of bones represented by kaphā. Or maybe it’s because kaphā does not represent ideas of bones but bones themselves, and meat and fat covering them. Pitta then can take this fat and break it down into energy to supply calories. This is the part where someone expert in ayurveda can say that I got it all wrong, but before I start arguing about it the book changes direction and compares these ayurvedic terms to quantum theory.

What we call “matter” in science corresponds to kaphā. Science talks about object concepts such as particles, electrons, photons, waves (not an object but an object concept). These object concepts have properties and so the distinction is there. Electrons have speed and waves have frequency. Ayurvedic vāta corresponds to force in science – that which makes things move and drives changes, and pitta corresponds to energy, I guess as matter can be converted into energy just as pitta breaks down fat to extract calories. The author compares pitta to properties of objects and says that these properties can be divided and organized. He gives no examples so I’m not sure what he means. Converting matter to energy seems like a better fit to me but I might be missing some essential functions of pitta which necessitate a different explanation, such as dividing and organizing properties of objects.

Next is a paragraph on problems in quantum theory and this where physicists will normally stand up and say we got it all wrong. No matter what the audience is there will always be one like that. The rest might go along with our version just fine and display at least equal understanding of the subject but this one prick would insist that we should go back to school and learn quantum theory the right way. Perhaps we should look at it philosophically as karma giving us a lesson to complete our knowledge and his objections need to be included. I just hope this lesson is digestible and we don’t really need to go back to school and learn quantum theory for real. Incorporating missing bits of knowledge of the subject we have only vague understanding of is not easy, and it’s not that we only need to understand what that person says but we should locate this position on the semantic tree as well – we need to know where he is coming from and why his views should or should not matter to our own presentation.

One of the central points in quantum physics, in author’s view, is that science has a notion of matter but it doesn’t treat matter as ideas and meanings. This is a problem from Sāṅkhya perspective and I bet vast majority of scientists won’t even know what we are talking about – in their framework ideas and meanings are very distinct from matter. This argument is clearly given for our own understanding, not for public consumption.

Second problem for quantum theory is that the idea of energy has changed and it’s not “kinetic” anymore but rather fixes particles in stationary states with nothing in between them. The third problem follows from the second in that we have no idea why objects need to change from one state to another (signifying different discrete energy levels) and so we cannot apply our traditional notion of force that causes the changes. Instead it all has been replaced by probabilities and randomness. These three problems correspond to three postulates in Sāṅkhya that are missing from science – matter is ideas and meanings, energy is the agency that divides abstracts into parts, and force as prāṇa that describes processes rather than force as property of objects.

Next paragraphs starts talking about trajectories and trajectories are difficult to digest so I’ll leave it for another day.

Vanity thought #1765. VC – Sankhya in language of Quantum Theory

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

On with the rest of the chapter on “Atoms and Macroscopic Objects”.

The author makes an interesting statement equating karma with “probability wavefunction”, whatever that is. The logic, I assume, goes like this – quantum theory is closest to describing complete reality. It can’t explain gravitation yet but it’s making strides in the macroscopic world where it explains behavior of what we see as non-quantum objects like shoes and gases. The world is fundamentally made of quantum particles, we just don’t know how to explain really big things yet. Expressing Sāṅkhya in language of quantum theory, therefore, is our best bet to appeal to scientists here.

Everybody knows that photons can behave both as particles and as waves. “Probability wavefunction”, as I understand it, describes the state of a photon and makes predictions whether it’s a wave or a particle. These predictions are given only as probabilities – unlike the rest of science quantum theory is indeterministic. It’s not like “train leaves station A… when will it arrive at station B” problems from school textbooks. The answer there is certain, it can’t be “either 3 PM or 5 PM, there’s a greater probability that it will be 5”.

With out best theory we can’t know the exact state of a photon, it can be both this and that, and when we finally observe the state this uncertainty goes away and that’s what is called probability wavefunctīon collapse – because now we know. I’ve typed that all up from memory, exact details might differ from the modern state of science and modern textbooks. The principle, however, still stands – wavefunction collapse creates certainty out of possibilities, and that’s why it’s compared to karma as it finally manifests the fruits of our previous actions.

The comparison does not end there – wavefunction is not observable, because observation would collapse it, and so is unmanifested karma. Unmanifested karma is already there but it’s not converted into perceivable sense objects yet. In science there’s no agency that governs collapse of the wavefunction. I mean observation causes the collapse but it can’t predict which way it will go. In Sāṅkhya the agency that manifests a particular karma is time, and this time is a manifestation of God, so it’s out of our control. That is to say we attribute the agency that collapses wavefunction to God and then it all makes sense and wavefunction becomes predictable again (for God, not for us – we still don’t know how His time works). This is not a general “god” which might act whimsically but the form of God who observes the universe as was created from prakṛti, which was created by another form of God first. I don’t see any space for whim here. From our position we can try to understand how time chooses possibilities and converts them to karma and this process is described in Sāṅkhya, though cryptically. I mean to say that it requires a deep study of the subject and is not given to us in easily digestible bits of information.

At least we know what we have to do with concepts we are already given. Science, on the other hand, can’t progress anywhere unless it incorporates both karma and time. And it’s not just karma and time but the whole gamut of subtle matter plus conscious beings and God that requires Sāṅkhya to work, too.

The author says that there are numerous interpretations of quantum theory to get around this deficiency of lacking karma and time and some of them are offered by advaitins who introduce “universal consciousness”. I don’t know who they are, maybe the author means people like Deepak Chopra here. In any case, they can’t explain everything without accepting God. Karma, btw, is a result of our incomplete knowledge of God, so if these Brahman based theories do not include God they are doomed to fail, too.

Anyway, karma is converted from unmanifested to manifested state by adding information, which is done by time. This addition of information transforms something that is “unconscious” into something “conscious”. The conscious experience of pain or pleasure that follows is, therefore, not something brought from outside but it lies “within” us, waiting for its turn. It’s not that there’s somebody out there trying to harm us but it’s our own unmanifested karma becoming perceivable. We’ve heard it many times before, of course, and here’s Sāṅkhya’s explanation of the same thing.

Next there’s a paragraph about trisarenu (in our books it’s spelled as trasareṇu), which is the smallest object we can see. It’s described as particles of light we can observe floating in sun rays as they enter through the window. Trisarenu is clearly not the same thing as atom in modern science, and, actually, Vedic texts mention particles smaller than that, though still not nearly as small as in quantum theory. What trisarenu is, however, is a smallest object perceivable by our senses. In that sense we can say it’s the atom of the realm of Bhūloka. I suppose anything smaller than that pertains to realms of Vedic cosmos lower than ours but the author doesn’t say it.

In science they, of course, know of particles smaller than atom and they produce them just like Sāṅkhya prescribes – by adding information to what already exists. Their information comes in the form of energy like laser rays they blast existing elements with. They can’t observe what is created in this process and they need extra energy to “magnify” traces left by new particles so that these signs become perceivable. They, in effect, traverse the semantic tree down to the areas not accessible by our senses. They can’t perceive those nodes on the universal tree and so they need to go back up the hierarchy to the realm of Bhūloka again. Sāṅkhya works everywhere.

Last paragraph sums it all up and introduces “atomism” but what the author means is clearly quantum theory – the wavefunction discussed earlier. When he says that atoms exist as karma in unmanifested form he clearly means “particles in uncertain states” as opposed to “particles in certain states”. There’s a promise to show different types of karma corresponding to five Vedic elements – ether, air, fire, water, and earth.

When unmanifested karma is converted due to time an event is created and this is called wavefunction collapse in quantum theory which produces measurement outcome. Science cannot predict these events (with absolute certainty) because it looks for their causes in manifest properties of matter while they lie in unmanifest karma and time.

Our experiences are not caused by matter and not due to our consciousness either, but due to past events we may or may not remember. I don’t know what is the role of remembrance here, I don’t think it matters because the ability to remember is also dictated by karma, not by our current state. Some people don’t like the concept of karma and reincarnation because they don’t remember the causes of their suffering but the ability to remember is caused by karma, too. Umanifested karma does not require our awareness and it isn’t stored in our memory as we will see later. It’s also called unmanifested for a reason – it’s unperceivable. What we remember is not unmanifest karma either – because it’s perceivable it must be something else.

Enough food for thought for today, I think.