Reply To: Is the Universe a Simulated Reality

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Ashish Dalela

To begin with, it is not a simulation. There are three stages in which this experience is created. These stages are called “unmanifest”, “about to manifest” and “manifest”. The “unmanifest” state is pure possibility. Just like we can say that dinosaurs are in principle possible. From this “unmanifest” state emerges the “about to manifest” state in which dinosaurs will exist, but which particular soul will become a dinosaur is not decided. Finally, the “manifest” state is when a particular soul becomes a dinosaur. This manifest state goes back into the “about to manifest” state when the dinosaur dies and another dinosaur is about to be born. And when all the dinosaurs are extinct, then this “about to manifest” goes into the “unmanifest” state. When the universe is destroyed, matter still exists in the “unmanifest” state. Therefore, matter is said to be eternal, though not always manifest. When the universe is created, then the “unmanifest” first becomes “about to manifest” and then this “about to manifest” becomes “manifest”.

The conversion of state from “unmanifest” to “about to manifest” is performed by a causal agency called Time. The “unmanifest” state is Prakriti or Shakti or Parvati who creates all the possibilities. Then Time also known as Sankarsana or Param Shiva converts this “unmanifest” pure possibility into the “about to manifest” state. So, Shiva and Parvati are creating the universe in the “about to manifest” state. They are fixing, for example, when dinosaurs will exist in a particular place and time. Then due to individual desire (guna) and deserving (karma), a soul is born into the dinosaur body, converting the “about to manifest” into “manifest”.

The “unmanifest” state is the idea of a dinosaur, the “about to manifest” is the role of the dinosaur in the ecosystem, and the “manifest” state is the individual dinosaur in the role. So, before the individual dinosaur comes into existence, the role of a dinosaur is created. Just like in a drama before an actor appears on a stage, the role or character is created. This role or character is associated with some rules of behavior. For example, the servant in the drama has to behave like the servant and the king in the drama has to behave like the king. If they perform these duties properly then despite being a servant, a servant is called a “good actor”.

Bad karma is created when the actors don’t play their roles properly, good karma is created when the actor plays the role correctly but desires a reward in return, and no karma is created when the role is played without desiring a reward in return. These are called vikarmasukarma, and akarma respectively. This is what we mean by “laws of nature”. The law of nature is not a mathematical law or equation calculation. It is rather the role in which a person is born. The role is created before the body enters the role. Therefore, even if you don’t take that role, someone will accept that role because it presents an opportunity to be exploited or utilized.

When you kill the ants the death of the ants is due to their karma. But the killing of the ants is attributed to you. The laws of nature fix that someone will kill the ant. But it doesn’t fix that you have to kill the ant. By choosing to kill you become responsible for the action. Similarly, when you give a charity to someone, the law of karma fixes that someone will give charity and the person receiving the charity will receive it according to their karma. But it doesn’t fix that you will be donating. If you do not donate, by karma you will lose the money in another way. If you donate, and you desire something in return, you will create good karma. Therefore, the karma-yoga recommendation is that donate (because you will lose the money anyway) but don’t desire a result in return (because then you will be forced to return to reap the benefits).

It is not only God who is not affected by karma. Even human beings who perform the actions without desiring a result, but perform the actions as a matter of duty, also don’t create karma. Therefore, Krishna also says that He is also performing dharma. But this dharma doesn’t create karma because it is performed without any expectation in return. Therefore, God is not bound by the laws due to the same reason that a karma-yogi is not bound by the laws.