Ancient Science: What is action?
According to modern understanding, action is a basically the act of doing something to achieve an aim. In physics, an action is a type of motion to achieve something. Strangely, when we look at any of the ancient Sanskrit literation that describe the formation of reality, individuals in reality or the workings of reality, we do not find any reference to “action” per say. We do find references to “work” and “work intent” which is kAraka. But explicitly “acting” to achieve a goal is not considered and explained at all. Oh sure, the Bhagavad Gita talks about it as this:
svadharmamapi cAvekShya na vikampitumarhasi|
dharmyAddhi yuddhAcchreyo’nyatkShatriyasya na vidyate||31||
Worrying about “what is my self-dharma” is not worthy of any attention. For a kshatriya there is no other action other than war that can be the dharma.
In fact it goes on to say why Arjuna should anyway go to war. This is the only way in which “action” in the rendered world is referred to everywhere in the Sanskrit literature. This is the order or dharma, just do it and do not think too much about it. If we look at the Brhat Parasarahora Sastra or the Surya Siddanta, we find there is no mention at all about “action” in the rendered world. It makes me wonder. It is strange isn’t it? If, “action” as how we think in modern world, drives the achievement of a goal, why then does it not feedback into changing the way the reality works? Hence, the question started arising, are we doing anything at all by acting? What is action in the first place? While, trying to understand this, we need to understand one very beautiful verse that is said in the Bhagavad Gita again:
avinAshi tu tadviddhi yena sarvamidaM tatam|
vinAshamavyayasyAsya na kashcitkartumarhati||17||
By the penetration of the imperishable by that, all this exists thus as a perishable weaving of the imperishable, not by moving (this) awareness work can be done
When you read it in this manner, the meaning emerges: “Why are you trying to change the imperishable using something done with the perishable? This should not be possible at all”. So, if “awareness” is just an appearance because of something that is occurring in the underlying truth, then by trying to move that “result called awareness” nothing in the underlying truth changes. Which is what I explained even in the the “work done blog“. So, then, what is action and movement that we see in reality? That is the major question that has a very intriguing answer. More than a problem in understanding the solution, I think our major problem is in accepting the implication of the solution. This is in-fact implying: “the action that is done in reality by us is actually a result of a transformation of work that is already done in the underlying truth. The action that we believe we do in this transformation, has no effect on that underlying something of the truth that translates to this appearance around us“. This can then be the only reason that all Sanskrit literature not talk about action at all, but just talk about the “work done in the underlying truth” to change and control things.
First we need to realise why this may be true. When we look around us, as I have indicated time and again, “we are always observing after the fact”. If we add a sensor such as thermometer, it can only sense what already has become the current temperature at that region not that which is going to be the temperature at that region. Any sensor based detection always has this drawback. When we look at our own thoughts, “while modern science tries to tell me that a neuron firing causes me to think”, I find that is only the reactive thoughts. The original thought that triggered the neurons has to have been present to change the “neuron” states in the first place and then a reactive chain occurs to create the children thoughts of that original thought. Neurons are also just sensors that detect occurrence of thoughts. In which case, all the appearances irrespective of what they are, the form, the reaction, the response, everything is just a rendering of something that has already occurred and is already present. As an appearance, we are just traversing these occurrence sequentially or in series. It does not matter whether it is a thought, a form or any other types of rendering. If we apply “shAnti”, as I had described in this blog: “It is a state where there is a peaceful, silent, unstressed flow or progress of a path for an event to go from that which has started becoming to the become state“, to action, then we find that as the progress of work occurs, a continuous transformation of that work done to an appearance causes the “simulation of action as we see it should have occurred“. Given it is a progress of work done that is continuously transformed, it feels as if we are doing an action. It is exactly as how we would have created motion in an animation.
We create a set of images with incremental changes and move the images appropriately and view through a narrow hole to simulate a motion. Here, the image to movement action is a direct translation of what is present in the image. In reality, the action is not a direct translation. The models in us is doing the appropriate transformation from something that has no direct translation to the form or appearance that we see to the underlying work done. This then becomes action. Thus, trying to change this action does nothing at all to that underlying truth. We need to find the relation between this action replay that we are doing to the underlying work that is being done and form the correct root thought that generates the appropriate work, only then can we affect the true existence. If we do what we are currently doing, all we can do is affect the appearance that has no effect and perishes with this appearance. This can be seen as the difference in computer terminologies as “pass by reference” and “pass by value” parameters. When we pass by value, any change done to the parameter within the function perishes with the end of the function.