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does it mean all permutations and combinations of how past could have unfolded and future might unfold are also present in consciousness of Lord Shiva as time
There are no permutations and combinations. The world works according to God’s will, and He is not unsure about what is going to happen. He is not calculating permutations and combinations. The destiny of the universe is fixed. This destiny, however, only describes what will happen; it doesn’t say who will do what. Therefore, for example, a war is fixed by destiny, and a certain number of people will die. But which countries will fight, and who will die, is not fixed. Likewise, that certain amount of alcohol will be sold is fixed. But who will drink and who will not, is not fixed. You have to read the books. All these things have been discussed dozens of times in my books.
Does it mean that an event that already occurred (eg: Chaitanya Lila) might unfold again and one can participate in it?
Yes it will unfold again in the next day of Brahma.
Is it that time simply mean Lord Shiva scanning the possibilities (Shakti) and selecting possibilities one after another?
Please read the books, as they explain these things in detail. And don’t use words like “scanning”. Shakti is Lord Shiva’s consort. He glances at Her lovingly. Do you consider looking at your wife “scanning your wife”? You have made it sound like database search. We have to develop some personalism and affection for the Lord and His beautiful pastimes to understand philosophy. Otherwise, if we remain impersonalistic, we cannot understand anything.
does it mean that these dvipa’s or worlds are perceptions or views of the same reality called bhu- mandala
There is no difference between view and reality. A view is reality and reality is view. Your mind and senses are as much matter as things outside your body. The distinction between view and reality is created in Western thinking where the view is unreal and reality is real. In Vedic philosophy, they are both real. They may not be eternally manifest, but they are eternally real. Truth is that which is eternally manifested while falsity is that which is sometimes manifest and sometimes unmanifest. Both eternally manifest and temporarily manifest realities are eternally real. When you imagine something that nobody has seen before, your consciousness has roamed to a new place. That place is idea-like. Your vision is not your invention. It is only a discovery of something preexisting.
Is it like, based on terrain/avatar chosen in VR game, reality and experience appears differently to the player?
I have no idea what you are talking about because I have never played VR games. But it is not a view. It is reality. You are unable to understand how view is reality, and consciousness moves from one view to another which is called seeing another reality and being in another reality.
I used to have dreams of being in earth like places where nature is of different quality, one can fly etc but they are not this planet in the sense that no place on this planet offers that experience. That explains they might be different parts of bhu-mandala.
It’s possible. I can’t say what it is, but there are infinite such places. Even if something existed in the past, like a war, it exists in the present in a potential form. Consciousness can go back into the war which is why people have nightmares. Likewise, it can go into the future states.
This is not an easy topic. Although the sun covers a revolution in 24 hours, its effect is not the same in all parts of the Bhumandala. To understand this, we need to understand three things:
- Suppose we divide 24 hours into different beat cycles; there are 7 basic beat cycles in classical music. All these beat-cycles cover the same time, but with different rhythms.
- Each of these beat-cycles is associated with a different meter, which comprises a different number of syllables. Like the beat-cycles, there are 7 different kinds of meters.
- The 7 horses of the sun-chariot are 7 kinds of meters, which can be associated with the 7 beat-cycles. Some horses are closer to the center and others farther from the center.
We can combine these three and say that all the horses are not running with the same rhythm, beat, or rate. Some horse takes a greater number of steps, and some horse takes a lesser number of steps. However, all of them complete the revolution in a 24-hour period. There is a sense in which precisely 24-hours elapse, and there is a sense in which these 24-hours are different beat-cycles. Similarly, the time in the 7 islands is not of the same type; it is 24-hours, but it is also different beat-cycles.
You can understand this in terms of different bases for counting. For example, there are binary, octal, decimal, hexadecimal, etc. counting systems. Accordingly, the number 11 means three in binary and eleven in the decimal system. The same symbol gets a different place value with the same face value. The 7 regions of Bhu-mandala are just like 7 different counting systems, such that the symbol is the same, but due to the difference in place value, the effect is different. Thereby, the movement of the sun produces different effects in the different parts of Bhu-mandala.
If you have read Mystic Universe, I have described the nature of space division in that book. Basically, every type of knowing has some activity, and every type of activity has some knowing. Knowing and activity underdetermine each other. For example, a knife can be used to cut and pierce, a saw can be used only for cutting and a screwdriver can be used only for piercing. When we divide this space, we get different kinds of places in which some knowing or activity is disallowed. For example, there can be a place in which everything will be cut using a saw, and everything will be pierced using a screwdriver. A knife, that can both cut and pierce, will not exist in that place, because nobody will be able to imagine the possibility of something that can both cut and pierce.
So, when a living entity is bound to a limited region of space, then they are limited in their imagination and realization. These limitations then create different kinds of worlds.
The significance of the division of space is that living entities are not allowed to move freely in space. That means that their minds cannot roam to many ideas, and the senses cannot roam to many sensations. Even if someone told them about it, they will not be able to understand it, and they can never realize it. They will consider such things nonsense. Hence, being bound to a world means limited imagination and realization. An advanced soul gets the ability to roam everywhere mentally and sensually. Even if the body is here, the mind and the senses can go to other places, and they can perceive and conceive other kinds of realities and bring them to this world. However, others who are bound to some space cannot understand such things, even if it is explained to them because their minds and senses cannot roam in the same way as that of the advanced soul. Thereby, there are millions of things that become incomprehensible for the bound soul because their minds and senses are bound to a limited portion of space, constraining their imagination and perception.
These divisions on Bhu-mandala are created by Maharaja Priyavrata. This means that previously such limitations on imagination and realization did not exist, and the person who was living on earth could imagine anything and perceive anything, because their minds and senses could roam freely into other parts of space. But Maharaja Priyavrata has created a division in space such that our imagination and fulfillment have been constrained after the division. And this constrain is based on dividing the space into 7 regions, which is in turn based on 7 meters and rhythms.
So, understand one basic idea that our minds and senses are bound right now. They are not free to understand everything or perceive everything. As we get more purified, this bondage reduces, which means we can understand more and perceive more. When all bondage is removed, then the soul can understand anything and perceive anything. That is called complete freedom or liberation. Even if the soul is in a body, he is not limited like the others in his perception and knowing. Thereby, everyone is not equal even if they are in a human body. Some souls have more freedom and they can roam into regions beyond the imagination and perceptual capacity of most other people. And Maharaja Priyavrata has created limitations in this perception and understanding.
Why he has done it, is another topic. Maybe he did not want people to have so much freedom that their minds and senses will keep roaming here and there. Or, maybe he wanted people with different mental and sensual capacities to be segregated into different worlds so that they can live with others with similar capacities and enjoy only limited kinds of pleasures. Whatever be the reasons, those divisions exist, and that means most people’s minds and senses are limited in understanding.
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.
In Vedic cosmology, there are planets like Rahu and Ketu which we cannot see (i.e., the light doesn’t travel from them to the Earth) but they are still said to exert influences on our lives. Similarly, there are many upper and lower planetary systems that exist although we cannot perceive them.
This non-perception of certain planets and planetary systems can be understood by the restrictions to the movement of prana outlined above. In short, there is a different kind of “vacuum” in which light doesn’t propagate but other effects propagate. This is also the principle upon which we can understand dark energy, where there is an effect, although we cannot perceive it by our eyes. So, these are examples of “light vacuum” but not the total vacuum of all kinds of communication.
So, there is a science of communication in which there are various kinds of paths in space, and on those paths, different kinds of information are communicated. We don’t understand that science fully today, but there are problems in modern science (dark energy and dark matter) that require such a theory. And on the same principles, we can understand the flow of prana in the body. For example, we are generally not aware of how the food is digested in the stomach, but we can become aware. Likewise, we are aware of pain often, and we can become unaware. The basic principles are the same in all these cases, but the details of these mechanisms need more understanding.
This is a good question, and I don’t know the answer fully. You are asking why light is perceived even in a vacuum and why sound isn’t. What I can say is that space has some paths by which a relationship between things is established. In a vacuum (or what we call the vacuum) some of these paths are absent, due to which the effects of sound are not perceived, and some other paths are still present due to which the effects of light are still perceived. From these differences, we can understand that there are different kinds of paths for different kinds of properties.
What we call the vacuum breaks some paths and doesn’t break other paths. Why some paths are absent while others are present, is something I don’t understand today. For example, sound travels through metal but light does not. Similarly, the effect of smell is not perceived in a vacuum and perceived in a non-vacuum. We can feel the gravitational pull in a vacuum. So, some properties are perceived in a vacuum (e.g., light and gravity) while others are not (e.g., sound and smell).
The general principle of perception in Vedic philosophy is that the senses connect to their objects, and this is sometimes called the “movement of the senses” due to prana. This prana requires some paths. If there is no path, then the senses cannot perceive certain sensations. Based on this principle, by controlling prana the communication of the senses is cut-off from the objects. A yogi can for instance cut off the sensation of pain. Analgesic drugs also attain something similar. So, Analgesic drugs are cutting off the movement of some type of prana by which pain feeling is stopped.
The basic principle of communication inside the body also applies to communication outside the body. And both types of communication involve the transfer of information via some path.
So, what we call a “vacuum” stops the movement of some prana but not the other prana. Smell and sound are examples of communication that is stopped, and light and gravity are examples of communication that are not stopped, in a vacuum. So, it is a specific type of cut-off. We already know that there are five kinds of prana and they “move” in different ways. Some movement is said to be bottoms-up and something is top-down. Some movement is said to be lateral and some movement is said to be circular. But which type of movement is connected to which type of information transfer requires a deeper understanding, which I don’t have presently.
This requires a deeper understanding of the nature of prana, the various types of communicative paths, and how some paths are established or broken, and how information is communicated using different kinds of paths and different types of prana that move in different paths and ways. You have a good question, and I’m sorry but I don’t have the complete understanding to answer it.