Is nature a 3d printer?

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    Rekha Shastry

    Hare Krishna Prabhu.

    Long time ago I was seeking truth in parallels between quantum physics and non dualism. Not now though as I have turned into Vaishnavism. One thing had remained with me which is that nature is like a 3d printer which prints the intentions of something more abstract like mind. Currently is my entire body being rendered by mother nature based on my subtle bodies, guna and karma(in a way software)?. Is a mother’s womb like a 3d printer which prints the information contained in subtle bodies of a soul?  Also what is a brain? Modern material science tends to reduce our first person experience rich of sensations, feelings etc to this brain. Is a brain experience generating device? Of course has a student of your works it seems foolish to  even think our experiences can be reduced to brain. If brain is not the experience generating device then what is its role? Is it a translator between matter and mind??

    I am not sure I have phrased my questions properly and I apologize for that. I have read as many articles and forum discussions on the above topic yet I haven’t fully understood how you treat the brain’s role. If it isn’t too much can I ask you to make another attempt to explain it?

    Thank you.

    Ashish Dalela

    I will offer some general advice, and then try to answer your question. Please be patient.

    Good and bad questions

    The best way to ask a question is: What is X? It can be: What is God? What is the soul? What is matter? What is this universe? What is the mind? What is the body? And so on.

    The next best way to ask a question is: I read this part from a so-and-so book, and I don’t understand it. It is also the first thing I don’t understand in the book; I understand everything before this. How should I understand it?

    The least good way to ask a question is: Is X like Y? For example, is nature like a 3D printer?

    There are many assumptions built into your question. I have to uncover all those questions one by one, refute those assumptions, then state a new set of assumptions, and then explain everything all over again. This is three times the work than if you asked a simple question: What is nature? The problem is also that when I uncover all the assumptions in your question and refute them one by one, your mind will go into a hundred different things before it goes into the main point. That will confuse you very much.

    What to read and how

    There are many systematic articles and overviews of books that I have provided on the website. For example, this article discusses nearly half the books in a step-by-step manner. There are further detailed descriptions of all the books on their respective pages. There is an eyechart for all the books on the start here page.

    When I write an article, I assume that people have read the relevant books. I cannot repeat the whole book into an article again. I hope that people will read the books before the articles. At least read a few of them. The articles are specifically meant for covering those topics that are often left out of books to keep them short (people are not able to read long books).

    Hence, if you say that I read the articles but I did not find my answer, my immediate question will be: Did you read the relevant book? If not, then that is the place to start. The book is the main thing. The articles are for those who read the book, and there is something not in that book.

    I’m always writing new articles, but I’m not thinking about the topics in the books again. I’ve been publishing for 15 years now, and I was writing for 10 years before that which I never published. My mind has moved forward from where it was 10, 15, or 25 years ago. But it is all there in the books. The newcomer should read those books systematically. Begin from the beginning and then move forward.

    Understanding Sankhya philosophy

    The questions about material nature are discussed in a preliminary and simplified form in the book Sankhya and Science. I always try to reuse the vocabulary of the previous books, which means that if you have read the book, the vocabulary will seem familiar. That increases the understanding. Otherwise, if the vocabulary is strange, we understand nothing.

    Vocabulary is very important because we need equivalent terms for Sanskrit words. For example, what is the meaning of “bhuta”? What is “tanmatra”? How do “bhuta” and “tanmatra” come out of “indriya”? How does one “bhuta” come out of another “bhuta”? These are elementary concepts. It is very hard to repeat them over and over, in the level of detail required to understand.

    Hence, the only way to understand things is to first get familiar with the vocabulary. It can take years to just understand these words. That is just like it takes a child years to understand the meaning of energy. Initially, you are taught that energy is kinetic energy. Then it becomes potential energy. Then it becomes field energy. Then it becomes curvature of space. Then if you understand all these things, you can talk about “dark energy”. If we try to talk about “dark energy” and we don’t know the entire prior history of “energy”, then the discussion is not useful. In short, vocabulary is very important. It is not that one word means one thing always. What it means when and where requires years of learning.

    We have to be able to treat these subjects on Vedic philosophy with the same respect as we treat modern science. At least that much respect. This means, step by step, no hanky-panky guesswork. Precise and systematic. We also have to get into the groove of a certain alternative way of thinking. It comes with practice, problem-solving, and applying an idea to multiple things.

    Quality vs. Quantity

    Everything in modern science is about quantities or numbers. Everything in Vedic philosophy is about qualities. So when Vedic texts talk about “space”, they are talking about a space of qualities. When science talks about “space” they are talking about a space of quantities.

    This impacts the idea of distance. For example, we can ask: What is the distance between black and white? What is the distance between bitter and sweet? How far is love from hate?

    The different planets in the universe are places of different qualities. The heavenly planet is one set of qualities and the demoniac planets are different qualities. There is a “distance” between them. That distance is like asking: How far is music from poetry?

    These distances are described in terms of a yojana. People think it is like quantity distance because they went into cosmology without understanding that material nature is only qualities. Three basic qualities and then infinite qualities by combination. They could have asked: How far is sattva from rajas? How far is rajas from tamas? But they have not thought like that. Hence, the meaning of yojana is not known. It is simply multiplied by 8 to convert to miles, which are then interpreted as distances on a road measured by a speedometer in a car.

    So, how to understand distance? Imagine that your mind is like a shelf for books. You keep some books on the top shelf and some books on the bottom shelf. If you have a system of organization of books, then you don’t have to sequentially search for each book one by one to find the book you are looking for. You directly go to the shelf and the particular part of the shelf to find the book. Like that, our mind organizes ideas. There is an organizational system unique to each person. But there is an organizational system. This means some ideas are on the top shelf and some ideas are on the bottom shelf. Now, there is a “distance” between the top and the bottom shelf, which is also the distance between the idea on the top shelf and the idea on the bottom shelf.

    But this is a distance between ideas. If you say to someone: The physics book is five feet from the floor, then they have a reference, and they know how high to go to find that book. Like that the planets in space are organized. Each planet is like a unique book, and there is a system of organization of the books. You can call it the universal catalog system. This may not be our catalog system, because the catalog system can be unique for each person.

    So, we have to treat the whole universe like a person. The places in the universe are like the mental shelf of ideas. Their organization in some hierarchy from top to down involves a catalog system of books. In this catalog system, distances have a specific interpretation relative to the catalog system. “5 feet from the bottom” has no meaning unless we know the catalog system, which means unless we know the mental shelf system, and the person whose mental shelf it is, we don’t know anything.

    Hierarchical Space 

    Once you understand this basic idea, then you can think of a shelf in which there are many boxes one inside the other. Inside each box, there is yet another shelf system. That second shelf can have its own catalog system. This means if you say “5 inches from the left” for the second shelf system, then the meaning is different because it is based on the catalog system of the second shelf rather than the first shelf.

    In this way, you can extend the idea of space as a shelf inside a shelf inside a shelf infinite times. This is what I call “hierarchical space”. It is like a set of Russian dolls. You open one doll, and inside it is another doll. Then you open another doll, and inside it is yet another doll. These dolls are called Matryoshka dolls. Matr means mother. So there is a mother inside a mother inside a mother.

    This basic principle of hierarchical organization is called Satkaryavada. It means “the effect exists inside the cause eternally” but you may not always see the effect. You have to open the outer doll to see the inner doll. If you don’t open it, then the inner doll is hidden. These are examples of course. Don’t take this too literally because we are talking about the shelf of ideas, not a physical shelf, or physical doll. The implication is that one idea is hidden inside another idea.

    You can imagine a book. The entire book is hidden inside its book title. If the book name is “Conceiving the Inconceivable” then just by the title you know at a high level what the book is about. Then when you read the book, you understand the title more and more. You are opening one Russian doll after another and you see another Russian doll. That is like a book contains chapters, a chapter contains sections, and a section contains paragraphs.

    Always think in terms of ideas, which means each chapter is one summary idea, and inside that summary are many detailed ideas. In this way, you can go on and on infinite times.

    What is Shakti?

    The material universe, or what we called the bookshelf earlier, is actually a bookshelf in Durga’s mind. It is not physically inside Her mind. But there is a system of cataloging under which She thinks of the world in a certain way. That is Her system of organization or cataloging system. You can say it is Her model of reality. You can also say it is Her conception of reality.

    Then based on how She has cataloged things in Her mind, She expands that mental catalog into a world. It is like saying that you organize the world in your mind in a certain way, and then you tell the world about your mental model. By telling the world about your mental model, the world comes out of you. But it doesn’t mean that the mental model has ceased to exist in your mind. The mental model is both outside your mind and inside your mind.

    So, She is the mother of the world. But not like a physical mother. She is a mental mother. But in the quality system, that mind is Her body. The mind is also the soul. There is no difference between mind and body and soul for a spiritual person. They are all the same. But if we say body, then people think physically. If we say soul, then nobody understands anything at all. So, we can say that the world comes out of Her mind. Anyway, so what is in Her mind, comes out of Her mind like speech. And that speech is organized based on Her mental catalog system. And this catalog expands like Russian dolls, with dolls inside the doll.

    So this is the high-level idea of material energy. Our body is also hidden inside our mind, and it comes out of the mind. This is why it is said that “ether” comes out of the “mind”. That “mind” is one box on the shelf, and you open the shelf and you see a whole new catalog system, which is the “space”. Inside this “space” shelf there are infinite shelves. You open one shelf, and you get the “air” shelf. In this way, it goes to fire, water, and earth. It doesn’t mean physical things. All these names are given based on what Mother Durga thinks about the world. It is Her system of organization, Her cataloging system. She has cataloged it like this, and that is why we use these terms.

    So, again, back to vocabulary, to understand this vocabulary, we have to understand the Mother’s vocabulary. It is scientific vocabulary, but it is how the Mother speaks about Her mind. The more we understand the Mother, the more we understand Her vocabulary. Just like each mother talks to her children in some unique way. She has pet names for the child. Like that, all these things are Her children, and She has pet names for Her children.

    3D Printing

    In one way it is correct, and in another way it is wrong. You can say the book is a 3D printout of the title of the book. The title is 1-dimensional, and the book is 3-dimensional. The title is the data file being printed, and the book is the thing being printed.

    The problem is that title is very short and the book is very big. But the book expands from the title. So, it is not just printing, but also expanding. The basic process is an expansion and you can also call it printing because the ink is coming out of the book title and expanding into each page that is how the book is getting printed.

    Try to understand these things, and please don’t try “Is it like this?” or “Is it like that?” This is called speculation. In BG 2.41, Krishna says: bahu-śhākhā hyanantāśh cha buddhayo ‘vyavasāyinām. This means “the intelligence of the idle mind is infinite branched”. “Is it like this?” is one branch. “Is it like that?” is the second branch. In this way, there are infinite branches. These infinite branches are produced by the idle mind, or one which is avyavasayi. Vyavasayi means properly engaged. And the opposite is idle. These branches of the mind are also like the shelf and the doll. You open one shelf and there are infinite shelves inside that. In this way, there is no end to it.

    Everything can be known if we study systematically. It takes time. But it can also become short if we can detach the soul from the body. By detachment, you can see the mind. The mind will become an object that you can see. Just like you see the external world separate from you, likewise, you can see the mind separate from you. Then you can see that the mind is also a space. It is a whole world out there. And in the mental space, things are cataloged in different places. And over time, ideas are moved from one place to another in the mind. Some ideas come close. Some ideas go far away.

    So everything is possible by detachment. And that can happen slowly or quickly. It is up to us.

    Rekha Shastry

    Thank you Prabhu

    Sorry for the bad question. Now onwards, first I will research properly and then only come to your aid.

    Actually I have read four of your books so far. Of course understanding is not guaranteed just because I read it. Alongside we have to be good in our spiritual life as well. We have to be sincere and consistent.

    Thank you for the above explanation Prabhu. These analogies of yours helps me a lot in understanding your books. One good thing that I got by posing a bad question. In books you are very concise and write for a scientifically literate readers. Like you have said many times, we have to be consistent, patient and read multiple times. Nevertheless even with the little understanding that I have got it has cleared a lot of misconceptions that I had had. Thank you very much.

    Ashish Dalela

    Yes, science doesn’t just mean truth, but also a methodical and systematic presentation of the truth. If we leap from one thing to another, then it is not science. If you study the Sutra system of six philosophies, you will see how they go step by step, methodically and systematically. Every topic will be covered in due course of time. They will arrive at the ultimate conclusion but after going through all the previous steps, answering every question in the process, and responding to every objection. So, “science” is not a new thing for the Vedic system. It is truth, it presented rationally, systematically, and completely. In that process, all the alternatives are also examined and objections are responded to.

    There is no place for “I think”, “I believe”, “in my opinion” or even “in my experience”. That I and me is completely removed. This is why it seems impersonal sometimes although it is a philosophy of personhood. Many people have misunderstood this objectivity of truth as impersonalism. We are scientific in the sense of truth, systematic, and complete. We are anti-science in the sense of axiomatization of speculations without establishing why only those and not any other axioms.

    This is also have done my books. The system of presentation is the same. It has to be the same. Otherwise, if we don’t stick to the standards set by the prior tradition, then we have no right to speak. Speaking is not a birthright. There is no freedom of speech or right to speech under which people speak whatever comes to their mind. Many people find this very hard because they are not used to the rigorous style of presentation and discussion which has been used in classic texts. They have become so used to random discussions that they are incapable of a rigorous discussion.

    I know that most people leap, hop, and skip through a book. They read one page here and one page there. The result is that they go to a later page, understand nothing and then complain. That complain would not arise if they read it rigorously and systematically. But the problem is that people have no patience. I have seen that people jump to a chapter because “that is the question I want the answer to”. Their “I” is most important. We need to decimate this “I” even to read properly.

    But since most people cannot do that, or are not even inclined to do that, hence the books are only meant for the highest class of people, not for everyone. There is no opposition to anyone reading it. But it will be presented in a rigorous and systematic manner. Just by making it rigorous and systematic, we kill two birds with the same stone: (a) eliminate lazy and unsystematic people, and (b) increase the convictions of the most sincere people by bathing their intellect in the pure water of the truth.

    Rekha Shastry

    One can easily see you are very principled and make no compromise in presentation of truth. You could have easily written a book that would appeal to the masses but you chose not to. In this way only those deserving and willing to  put the effort to correct themselves will understand it. Anyone willing to go through your works is guaranteed to be cleared of most misconceptions they have about reality. With your books as  backbone now I have some confidence to pursue the path of jnana yoga alongside bhakti yoga both enriching each other. Thank you Prabhu for all your efforts.

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