How is conceptual distance measured

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    Sai Saurab

    Hi Ashish! Hope you’re doing well.

    Mystic Universe is truly a fantastic work. Popular Science has been feeding us a picture of the universe but you’ve shown many ways in which the lens they use is actually distorting the view. And I found there are critics even in the academy who are not happy with how overfitted the current models of cosmology are like here.

    I have a doubt regarding the distances to luminaries mentioned in the Vedic Scriptures. You say in chapter 8 of Mystic Universe –

    For instance, distance in Vedic cosmology denotes conceptual difference, which is hierarchical, and not linear.

    By conceptual difference, do you mean the real distance which is the length of the hierarchical path which needs to be traversed (which is also physical, like you give the eg of travelling between two cities by road) or do you mean the semantic difference like the difference between a table and a chair in a semantic tree? If it is the latter, how is this difference quantified – like how distances are measured in graphs? Also, why are units of physical distance (such as yojanas/miles) used to describe them? Please clarify.

    • This topic was modified 3 months ago by Sai Saurab.
    Ashish Dalela

    Conceptual distance is not measurable by meters or feet. It is measured by the mind.

    Just like you can say that “I am close to my parents”, although you may be living in another city many thousands of miles away. It is not an imaginary idea. When minds are close, then the thoughts in one mind appear in another mind. Due to emotional proximity, you can feel the pain of another person even if you are not related. But if you are emotionally distant, then you don’t feel the pain. If your friend is unhappy, then you become unhappy. But otherwise, there are millions of unhappy people in this world whose unhappiness doesn’t make you unhappy. Likewise, there is also ideological proximity. You can say: “Our philosophical positions are close”, and by that, you mean that you are thinking the same or similar kind of thing. So, there are three kinds of proximities–conceptual, emotional, and relational. Relationally, you are close to your parents as opposed to your neighbors. Emotionally, you can feel the pain of your neighbors, but may not feel the pain of parents. And ideologically, you can think in the same way even if you are not related or emotionally close.

    The term yojana comes from the root yuja or joining. It is also the root of the term yoga. The term yojana means how two things are joined. That joining is a path between two things. On that path, information travels from one place to another. If that path doesn’t exist, then the information doesn’t travel. Everything is not connected to everything in this world. A path between two things is created, and then information is transacted. You can think of this path like a cable connecting your laptop to your phone. If the cable is not there, then information cannot be exchanged.

    This path can be long or short. A long path means that you are emotionally far from someone, or you are distantly related to someone, or you have a different kind of idea than someone else. And short path or distance means that you are emotionally close to someone, or you are closely related to someone, or you think the same way as someone else. This path or distance is measured in terms of a unit called yojana but it is not like a meter or feet. But it is a path that is used by yogis to travel in the universe. These measurements are based on the travel of the yogis. They have traveled between Graha and measured the distances, and then they have presented them in the Vedic texts.

    The distance measured by this yogic travel is different than the distance we measure using meters and feet. Just by thinking a different thought, feeling a different feeling, and developing a different relationship, the yogi is able to transfer himself to another place. They measure the distance in terms of how different that thought, feeling, and relation is to what they had previously. Similarly, by changing their thinking, feeling, and willing, a yogi can take on the body of another species of life. When ghosts want to enjoy themselves, they think like humans, and they enter the human body.

    So, just by changing our mind, we can change the body, place in the universe, and enter a new society or a “world”. This is called the change of body, rather than the motion of the body.

    There is a distance for the change of the body and another distance for the motion of the body. The term yojana refers to the change of body, and since most people cannot think beyond motion, therefore, they equate these distances to the motion of the body. But the fact is that even by motion for the same distance they cannot reach that place because it is change and not motion.

    The first step in understanding change is to realize that the soul is moving and the body is not moving. The soul is hopping from one body to another, feeling something different, thinking something different, and relating to something different. The yogis master this art of change rather than motion, and they can do this willingly. It is possible if we gain complete control over the mind. Then you can make the mind think differently, feel differently, and relate differently.

    Tapasya or austerity is the method to do this. For example, if your mind says, “Let’s eat some ice cream”, and you bring the mind under control and say, “Now is the time to study and not enjoy”, then by this process of mind control you can develop mental power. When this is mastered by severe mental and physical austerities, then immense power is gained.

    The demigods also have this power. Therefore, a demigod can appear in the form of an animal, or take the appearance of another person. The demons are also experts in this art of body change. So in the 6 upper planetary systems, and the 7 lower planetary systems, this art is well-known. And even on this planetary system, there are many experts in this art. But they are not interested in talking to the ordinary people who know nothing, cannot understand such things even if it is explained to them, and don’t want to try it. Even if something like this is presented to them, they will distrust the person who says it. We are those unfortunate people who are ignored by the capable. So we think that all this is strange. Even if it is explained, we think “this must be totally fictional”.

    In the former ages, even 5000 years ago, the yogis were frequently traveling between planets and appearing before the eyes of common people. For example, in Mahabharata, Narada Muni appears frequently. Similarly, many sages appear from one place to another in a moment. So, because there was some respect for such advanced sages, therefore, they would come and interact with the common people. But in this degraded age of ignorance, laziness, and distrust, they are not interested in us. And so, our ignorance also becomes our misfortune that we cannot see such things.

    Yes, conceptual distance is real distance. The physical distance is imaginary distance, and it is created by an interaction. These things are discussed at length in the book Time and Consciousness. Due to this real and imaginary distance, there is an absolute space, which modern science completely ignores, and there is a relative distance or space upon which everything in physics is based.

    I was thinking that I wrote some strong words earlier, and I might have demotivated you. So, I’m happy to see that you are not demotivated, and still continuing to study these subjects. If you continue reading these books, then they are a gold mine that you can excavate for a very long time. By this knowledge, the conviction grows, and that conviction then leads to solid determination to practice and perfect oneself. Without knowledge, there is no conviction and hence no practice. So, this knowledge is very important to develop the solid conviction that we are not talking about some imaginary things. With that conviction (if acquired) you can rapidly transform your life.

    Sai Saurab

    Thanks Ashish! I am immensely grateful for your generosity expressed as these detailed responses (in addition to your books and the blog). So, I wasn’t demotivated by whatever you said. I have started to chant the mahamantra regularly in addition to studying your books. The tools that I’ve started with are really blunt(as you’ve noticed) but I intend to keep digging still.

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