Ancient Science: Indeterminate and Determinate
As I have indicated in my previous blog, the “Brahman” is considered to be the “indeterminate truth” rather than an existence of all possibilities. The main difference being a “indeterminate truth” is a “continuous expanse of indeterminate” rather than a set of “discrete determinate” that come together to form an indeterminate. In fact in Sanskrit, it is said to be the nirvikalpa and nirguNa Brahman, which means “Brahman” “without appearance” and “without qualities”. So, what does this really mean?
It is strange how we don’t realise the difference between a description and the “actual knowing” of the description even if it hit us directly in the face. For example all of us know “gravity as that force that pulls the ball to the ground when we drop it”. But, then, that is just a description of gravity. It is only when we ourselves jump and are unerringly pulled back down to the ground do we “actually know” what gravitational force really is, till then it is only the ball that “knows gravity” and what we know is just the “description of an observed behaviour”. When it comes to gravity it is easy to describe and know, because we have an environment in which we can experiment with, on ourselves to get a good “knowing of the concept”.
But what of something that does not have such an environment readily available? That is the main problem when we talk about Brahman as “nirvikalpa” and “nirguNa”. Translating and putting the meaning of the words together we can only describe what the Brahman is. But to know the Brahman, we need to, NOT describe, but we need to know what “nirvikalpa” and “nirguNa” really is. That is the huge problem to knowing the Brahman. The difference between knowing and describing is similar to the difference between the concept of “Shunya” and the concept of “zero”. If we said “1 apple” or “2 apples”, it is easy to envision them. We envision an apple and then add the said number of apples and we know what it is. Now, say we wanted to envision “zero apples”, we can still envision an apple and set the number at “zero” and have “zero apple”. But, “Shunya apples” is not the same as that. It is the “absence of apples”. If we envisioned an “apple”, we already do not know Shunya apples!!! Even forming the thought of “an apple” negates the concept of “Shunya apple”.
So, how can we know something without forming a thought? To know how to do this, it is important to understand what a thought really is! If we looked at thought as firing of neurons, then yes, we can do nothing about it, because we control nothing of the firing of neurons. Hell, I can’t even sense any of my neurons, let alone firing to control a neuron, or control firing specific neurons that forms a specific thought. But rather than look at it as neurons firing, if we understand the primary driver of formation of thoughts, then we start understanding what we need to do, to understand the complex concept such as Shunya. To understand and know this we need to look into ourselves and experiment with various thoughts and try to understand why and how they are formed. When we do this, we find that “thoughts are almost always formed only when a change is detected which then fires other thoughts in a hierarchy forming other reactionary thoughts”. And it should be noted that to do this we do not need to go farther back when things were formed or to the starting point of even ourselves. We just need to observe the formation of new thoughts in us. We are forming a number of thoughts as we live. For example, we can be sitting silently observing a busy road outside a coffee shop without actually noticing anything that is happening around us or the road and forming no thoughts until a single two-wheeler zooms past all the steadily passing vehicles with a very loud accelerating sound. Suddenly you are awoken out of your steady state of no-thought meditation and you find that you start concentrating on the reactions of other vehicles to the noise and speed. Examining the formation of that thought that pulled you back from that meditative trance you find, that change from the existing scene triggers a thought which leads to other thoughts.
If this is true then, to understand “Shunya” we need to trigger a change, so that, that thought of absence is created. For example with “Shunya apple” we need to trigger that “formation of absence of apple”. To trigger a change that will cause the thought of “absence”, we need to form the thought of an apple and then steadily eliminate that thought from all our thoughts, the change is from existence to non-existence rather than what normally is from non-existence to existence. What remains subsequently is “Shunya apple”. We need to note here, that while normally the presence of thought forms an understanding and hence knowledge, in the case of “absence”, while I call it “thought of absence”, it is basically the actual “absence of thought” that is detected and that absence forms an understanding and knowledge. It feels strange to us that such can happen. But, it should not have surprised us since we can see it at work when we are able to detect a picture where gaps in say a colour form a picture rather than the connection of the coloured sections. In this case too, we are able to pick up a group of “absence of thoughts” and form an understanding out of it or we can pick up on “silence” which is “absence of the thought of noise” and create an understanding and analyse it.
Now, this is easy when we talk about something very specific that we know such as an apple, because other thoughts are formed from the absence which then forms knowledge. How do we trigger “nirvikalpa” or “nirguNa” Brahman which is the “absence of all appearances, qualities and thoughts”? For this we need to understand how this reality around us is formed. If we are able to “know this” (note, it is know rather than describe), then technically, we can equate this “knowing” to the “knowing of an apple in Shunya apple example”. What is needed subsequently is to simulate the “Shunya reality” or the absence of reality i.e., form the thought of formation and then steadily eliminate those thoughts. So, how is reality formed. On a high level from various literature it follows that in an expanse of indeterminate a “node of variance” taking on a form of origin starts collecting and persisting change and hence becomes self-aware which then gains a path whose apex moves detecting changes matching the logic formed to become self-aware, in these changes a consistent pattern or Surya is recognised. When many such patterns are analysed together a meaning gets associated with the interference caused between these patterns, which then is transformed to this world around us (Read Surya Siddanta: Emergence of empirical reality for more details). That which becomes “self-aware” is the “I” which causes the formation of the reality around itself.
Thus to understand the Shunya of reality, it becomes important to understand the “formation of this I” since this “I” is the one that is causing the formation of reality and hence it follows that Shunya reality is really “Shunya I”. This brings us to the core question what is “I”? Following the similar reasoning as to what causes thought, which is change, if we ask ourselves what is “I”, it should follow that it is also just a “change which caused the formation of the first thought which then got named as I”.
Thus, we find that when a single determinate is formed out of the indeterminate we have an individual or I. There can be varied steps that can be involved in formation of the determinate individual, but at the end of all the various steps that which is formed is “determinate and no longer indeterminate” and becomes an individual that can be observed module from the indeterminate. Hence, if we ask ourselves what is “I” now, we find ourselves answering the question as “I is a single determinate choice of a path of changes that is chosen from the expanse of continuous indeterminate”. So, if reality is just a collection of individuals then, we can look at reality around us as a “collection or cluster or a finite set of determinate choices of paths of changes from the same continuous indeterminate”. With this definition in mind, we find that there are two ways for this “I” to understand “Shunya I”, first is to become the indeterminate or the second is to trigger the formation of the “absence of path of change”. If the “I” becomes indeterminate, then it should be realised that there is no understanding of the indeterminate. It has just gone back to the original indeterminate form with no individual “I” that can study the indeterminate. Thus our only viable choice is to trigger the formation of the “absence of path of change”.
To do so means triggering the absence of all the various outputs as the indeterminate goes from indeterminate to determinate in the reverse order, starting with the formation of meaning. Thus it becomes necessary that we trigger the “absence of meaning”, “absence of pattern”, “absence of logic”, “absence of self-awareness” and subsequently the “absence of node of variance”. It should be noted that when this is done by splitting the thoughts into two sets one that observes and one that simulates the absence, then the observer stays to understand the indeterminate while the observed becomes the indeterminate. This observed now is “nirvikalpa i.e., without any appearance” and “nirguNa i.e., without any qualities”.