Forums Forums Sāńkhya Philosophy RELATIVE MOTION

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    Leonel Palacios

    According to one of your videos on YouTube (and to my limited understanding), motion is when the soul (observer) moves through the tree-like space and the body is an experience (fixed in space). But my body-experience can travel from New York to Los Angeles here on Earth. What is this motion of the body-experience on Earth? Is it relative motion?

    Ashish Dalela

    There are actually four kinds of motions. I will list them one by one.

    1. The change in the type of body. This can mean change from one species to another. But it can also mean change from childhood, to youth, to old age, etc. Similarly, it can mean change from hungry body to tired body to sleepy body to energized body, etc. All these are cognitive changes. The top-level change is a change in species. The lower-level change is a change from childhood to youth to old age, within a species. And then there are even lower-level changes such as from sleepy to energized to a tired body, etc. within the child, youth, or old body. All these bodies are manifest from an ensemble or collection of potentialities. At a given time, some potentials are more likely than others. This change extends into your senses, mind, intellect, ego, and moral sense, as well. So, your senses can get more developed as you grow older, and then become weaker with age.

    2. As the above changes are occurring, there is a parallel change in our personality of likes and dislikes, what we love or hate, and what we enjoy or suffer. You may love nature as a child, and then as you grow older, you may want to be working in a city. Then as you grow older, you may develop an attraction for nature again. Your tastes in food and music may change over the course of your life. All these changes are also occurring from the body to the senses to the mind, intellect, ego, and moral sense. But the previous type of change is cognitive in nature while this type of change is emotive in nature. Srila Prabhupada writes in one verse in Bhagavad-Gita, that lust resides in the senses. Similarly, lust resides in the mind, intellect, ego, and moral sense. This “lust” is various types of likes and dislikes, desires and aversions, leading to enjoyment and suffering. This emotive change is different from cognitive change. For example, the cognitive change can be the ability for music, and the emotive change can be a preference for classical music over jazz or blues or rock music.

    3. The third type of change is a relational or structural change. Through this change, we come into contact with different objects. For example, you can move from one city to another, one country to another, or even one room in your house to another. As you enter new domains and leave behind older domains, you are moving from one hierarchically organized structure to another.

    4. The fourth type of change is interactional. You can call it “focus of consciousness”. Within a particular cognitive state (species, stage of life such as youth, state of body such as an energized body), with given types of desires and aversions (e.g., some preferences for food, music, literature, etc.), and within a certain structure (e.g., city or house), you can change the focus of your consciousness. This focus creates another sense of proximity and distance. As you focus more, the proximity increases and the thing that you are focusing on comes closer in your vision. That proximity means that by focus, you see it as a bigger thing. So, your body is in a particular state, it is situated in some structure, and the body has some proclivities, but there is a capacity in the senses and mind to “move”. That movement is the change of focus it creates proximity and distance.

    This fourth type of change is actually a variation of the structural change, and it arises because there are many layers of material existence. The gross body can be fixed in one place, but the senses can move. The movement is a structural change where the senses and the mind establish a new relationship to an object. By such movement, they come “close” to the object, and that object becomes “big” and “near” while the other objects become “small” and “far”. In modern science, we only talk about the movement of the gross body, but in Vedic philosophy, we also talk about the movement of the senses, mind, intellect, ego, moral sense, and so on. The Bhagavad-Gita describes that the yogi can withdraw his senses inward just like a tortoise moves his limbs inward and outward. These inward, outward, upward, downward, and sideways movements are the five kinds of prana. They alter the relationship of the various layers of our material existence to other things in the world. As these relationships are changed, we are moving “near” and “far” to different things. Those things that are “near” also become “big” and those that are “far” become “small”.

    The yogi who has developed mystical powers can not just move the senses and mind (which we can also do) but also move the body simply by thinking of another reality. The process of bodily movement is the same as the mental movement: It is a structural change. So, the yogi can move instantly from one city to another, just like we can move our minds instantly from one city to another. So, it is said that the yogis can move in the universe with the “speed of the mind”.

    All these different types of motions can occur simultaneously. For example, as you grow older, your desires and aversions may change, you may move into a different city or organization, and the focus of your consciousness can change. Also, one or more of these changes can occur while the others are not changing. Finally, one type of change can be greater than the other types of change.

    Now, turning to your question, there are two ways in which you can go to New York. One, you can dream of being in New York, travel through the streets, etc., or simply daydream of being in New York. This type of presence in New York is due to the focus of consciousness. Two, you can change the structural relationships of the body to move into New York City. These two types of changes are called “dreaming” and “waking” in Vedic philosophy. You can be structurally in New York, but dreaming about San Francisco. From a yoga perspective, this “dreaming” experience is considered more important than the waking experience, because the body can be anywhere in the universe, but the consciousness can be somewhere else. By perfecting the control of this dreaming experience, even the waking experience can be changed. For example, you can be in New York City, but you can be dreaming about Krishna going to the forest with His friends and cows. Everyone else may think that you are in New York City, but you are actually in Vrindavana by your consciousness.

    The Vedanta Sutra states that the perfected soul always dreams of the Lord while in the material world, and when he goes to the spiritual world, then that vision seen in the dream becomes the waking experience. Practically speaking, there is no difference between waking and dreaming experiences, so it is said that the pure devotees of the Lord are not in this material world. For the perfect devotee, the body may be in one city or another, but the thoughts are in the spiritual world. From a waking perspective, he is in the material world, but from a dreaming perspective, he is in the spiritual world. We think the devotee is here, but the devotee is actually in the spiritual world.

    The scientific implication of this way of thinking is that we are not bound by so-called “gravity”. We can move instantly to any place in the universe or transcend the universe. The Bhagavata Purana describes that when Krishna called the gopis for a dance, for some gopis, their family members restrained them and they could not go dancing with Krishna by their bodies. However, they still went by their minds and senses. This means that the gopis who went dancing with Krishna by their bodies or only by their senses and minds had the exact same experience of dancing with Krishna.

    Moreover, whatever we call “gravity” is just a structural relationship; it is not a force. By our karma, we are bound to some structures. For example, many people complain about being stuck in a town although they want to move to the city. Some people talk about being stuck in a job, or even in a marriage. They want to leave, but they cannot leave. The so-called “gravity” theory cannot explain why we are stuck in a town, job, or marriage. But the theory of karma can explain why we are stuck in a town, job, or marriage, in the same way, that we explain why we are stuck in the earth.

    There are many scientific implications of this structural idea of so-called “gravity”. If you are interested further, you can read the book “Time and Consciousness“; it discusses this topic in the context of physical theories. The simple conclusion of all these things is that we should try to change the focus of our consciousness, and thereby create a “dreaming” experience. When this dream is perfected, then eventually we will be transported into a “waking” experience that we were previously dreaming of. So, you can dream of anything you want, and you will eventually go there. But as devotees, we recommend that you always dream of Krishna, so that you can go to Krishna.

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