Dialogue 8 | Believer Vs Non-Believer

RV: What do you have to say about the world…I mean, Hindu philosophy says that the world is unreal. How can it be unreal when you and I see the same things? They say the world is a suffering. How come? And also that for a Self-Realised person, the world disappears. What rubbish! How can it ever make sense? Are they saying that a Self-Realised person see the world something like how Neo saw in numbers in the movie Matrix? What’s your take on this?

VR: These are some questions that every seeker must have asked at some point or the other. They are quite confusing questions indeed. However, they would have been less confusing if one would ask these questions in Sanskrit. E.g. for the term ‘world’ in English, we can call it only ‘world’. Since we all see the world as it is, we cannot think of it as unreal. In Sanskrit, a word for ‘world’ is ‘Jagat’. Another word we come across is ‘Samsaar’. ‘Samsaar’ is also the world, but perceived through relationships. A car is seen as a car in ‘Jagat’; but in Samsaar, it is seen as ‘my car’ or ‘Mr.X’s car’. In Samsaar, a relationship is added to everything and then they are perceived. When this beautiful creation is perceived through relationships, then it causes miseries to us. E.g. If a person sees a wave washing away a pair of shoes, it will not cause any sorrow for him. But when he realizes that it was ‘his brand new shoes’, then he’s unhappy. If an 80 year old man dies in the nearby building, we say – ‘he was very old and sick. It’s good that he got freed from his miseries.’ But if it’s our own father, then we weep. So, what is it that ultimately brings sorrow to us in this world? It is nothing but our relationship with everything we see.

When we say the world disappears for a Realised Master, he doesn’t see the world how Neo did in the movie Matrix (after he realizes what the Matrix is). He too sees the world as we do, but without any relationships and bondages attached. This is what makes him a liberated soul – Jivan Mukta.

The Lord is described as ‘Jagat-atman’ – one who is the Self of the world. If the world is unreal, then how can the Lord be called Jagatatman? The world (Jagat) is Real, but seen in terms of relationships (Samsaar) is unreal.

RV: Hmm…That’s interesting. I cannot fully agree upon what you are saying, but whatever you had said looks logical. Probably, if I think over it then I can counter you with more questions.
And by the way, do you mean that Vedanta cannot be learnt through English? What’s the big deal about Sanskrit anyways? It’s just a language.

VR: The scriptures say, after Sravanam (Listening) Mananam (Reflecting upon what we have listened to) is very important. Nothing should be accepted without critical analysis.
Vedanta can be understood through English. We both are communicating in English and I’m making my views clear too. But English or for that matter any language (other than Sanskrit) has got its limitation. Sanskrit is not just a language; it is an ‘evolved language’. Let me explain why. The person who teaches is called a ‘Teacher’ in English. Why? Why is the word ‘Teacher’ used? Why not use some other word like ‘asdfjio’? You might say – because he teaches. In that case, why the word ‘teach’ is used to convey the meaning of teaching? There is no answer, or rather; there is no reason why a teacher is called a teacher. As English language (like most of the other languages) developed these words came into existence. But in Sanskrit, there are many reasons why teacher is called a ‘Guru’.

Every letter, I repeat, every letter has got a meaning in Sanskrit. ‘Gu’, in Sanskrit, means darkness and ‘Ru’ means remover. Darkness represents ignorance. So, one meaning of Guru is ‘One who removes or dispels darkness of ignorance. Another meaning of Guru is ‘One who reveals Guri (target) to the disciple’. Guri refers to the Self or the All-Pervading Consciousness. Yet another meaning of Guru is…’Gu’ stands for ‘Gunateetha’ – one who is beyond the three Gunas (Satva, Rajas & Tamas); and ‘Ru’ stands for ‘Rupavarjitha’ – one who is formless. So Guru is the One who is beyond all the Gunas and forms, who is none other than the Supreme Self, who resides in each one of us.

In Sanskrit, for every letter there is a meaning. For every word, there is a reason why those letters were used to make the word. In Sanskrit – Nothing is for no reason.

RV: Zapped!

Dialogue 7 | Believer Vs Non-Believer

RV: Now that i know you do support science. Do you think Mahabharta took place and do you think Bheema was as powerful as hundred elephants. And what about Kunti’s sons before marriage? She gave birth to three sons from three different men/gods. one of them Surya devta or Sun which is not a living thing I would want to hear the philosophy behind this.
My take: I think science and society were advanced back then. Sex before marriage was not a taboo but a recreational stuff. People were free to think and write what they wanted. But then I also feel that may be Sage Vyasa was writing a poem and visualized a society as advanced as his treatise. It is a beautiful thought that one’s child is so bright that he would be imagined to be conceived as Sun’s god but taking it too seriously is like taking Harry Potter too seriously.

Philosophy in bhagvad geeta is beautiful and I think it was projected as god’s words so that lay man follows it sincerely but people, as usual, have ignored bhagvad gita and only remember Sri Krishna for his politics which is truly awesome. Only few like you have read Bhagvad Gita (i am assuming).

Your view..

VR: Mahabharata and Ramayana actually happened. But Vyasa & Valmiki composed them in their poetic form. Poets are free to use their imagination in poetry. Our Puranas, Epics & Scriptures are a blend of Spiritual science, Poetry & Symbolism. We need to learn them in the right way to understand them properly.
Why they used imagination or exaggeration is a question asked by many? If you have seen movies based on true stories, how the directors use some masala so that the viewers can grasp the ‘essence’ from it? Our minds accept things if they are encapsulated in stories. Even today we enjoy reading comics, don’t we? Stories go a long way. Through stories, unknowningly the values go inside. That is more important.
The way our earlier teachers taught subjects was also interesting. If we take the case of Mathematics…there was no separate subject like Mathematics. It was imbibed in Astronomy, Astrology, Construction of Yagnashalas, etc. Its like have Tea. The essence is tea. But how many of us can enjoy tea if we eat tea leaves? So, for the essence to go inside we may use water, milk & sugar along with tea. There’s no harm in taking tea this way.
Our scriptures are like sugar-coated tablets. What’s inside cannot be known easily by the common man, but they do have their good effects. As you rightly said, very few people have rightly understood scriptures like Bhagavad Gita or Krishna correctly. One reason is because of the problems caused by our own people who wanted power didn’t transfer this knowledge to everybody. They gave different interpretations of scriptures and caste systems. This way, the caste systems became impure and the knowledge came into the hands of a few who themselves did not understand it properly. Another factor is the change in our educational system. Till a few centuries ago, we had the Gurukul system. The British educational system made a big difference. Now that you are in Boston doing your research, you might understand the difference in educational system of India and US or UK. The British made the educational system for us so that they can produce only clerical class and they themselves follow a different approach. Still our people excel in various fronts (thanks to the genes of our forefathers that we carry).
As I see it, there’s no point now blaming different people of the past. The question is, if we know how useful our ancient knowledge was, we should be asking this question to us – What are WE doing about it? What is OUR contribution (however little it may be) to protect it?

RV: Good answer! 🙂

Dialogue 6 | Believer Vs Non-Believer

VR: Now, as I mentioned in the beginning, my questions to your answers are below:
A: Just the result of big bang and billions years of subsequent cooling/evolution.
Q: What was the Cause of Big Bang (As per Cause and Effect, there should be a Cause for Big Bang)?

A: God didn’t create man he evolved from apes.
Q: But who created apes? If I’m not wrong, life started from unicellular organisms and evolved over a period of time to become whatever creatures we see today. In that case, how did Life come into existence? What was the Cause for Life? Who was the father or mother of the first life form?

Your question: So is it satisfying to your intellect to believe that someone did that for you and not question its validity?
My answer: How can you say that I’m not questioning. You cannot read my mind. It is your perception that I’m not questioning.

Your question: That someone who controls your thought process
My answer: I don’t believe that someone created my thought process. My own mind created my thought process.

Your question: And that if it was created by someone in this time fabric
My answer: What is Time? Time is the duration between two specific points. When we say ‘one second’, it has a starting point and an ending point. So there was some point before Time started. Hence there is atleast one thing that is beyond time.

Your Q: He may have created similar/better ones in other dimensions of space
My answer: Yes. HE might have.

Your Q: aren’t you curious about that?
My answer: Yes, I’m. But not as much as I’m curious about the person who is asking this question and the person who is giving the answer.

Your Q: Aren’t you curious about how your life is not just decided by belivers but also non-believers who you think are also controlled by god?
My answer: I don’t believe I’m controlled by God. Everybody is controlled by their own actions.

Your Q: and not think about the fact that every good thing is dedicated to god and self-blame or blame the evil for bad effects?
My answer: This is just the view of a few. Not everyone believes that way. I cannot answer this question because I don’t believe this way.

Your question: All our rishis were philosophers; they did not finish the work, they left a lot of open ended questions.
My answer: (no offense intended my friend) Have you studied even one text written by the Rishis? If so, which one? If not, how can you claim that they left open ended questions? I feel this way about Objective Science. They have not yet explained to me – where does life go after a person dies? Why are some people born with defects? Why are some wicked people living happily? Why do good people suffer? If science is everything, it needs to answer all these questions.

Your question: When you come to a dead end you don’t stop and say – ok god put it here and maybe he wanted me to stop doing things and doesn’t want me to proceed instead you find another way to get out.
My answer: Once again, that’s your perception. May be some people think that way, but not all. Not me. I don’t believe God is doing anything good or bad for me. It’s my own actions that create my future.

Your question: If there is no world and only god, what would you say about all the dictators and rapists?
My answer: (That was a Yorker) Water by itself is pure. When it is polluted by mud, it becomes muddy water. But water by itself is pure. If we take out the mud, the water is pure. I hope you got my point.

Your question: Wait, do you mean to say that the term god is subjective and can be construed the way we want it to.
My answer: God is not subjective. He is perceived subjectively depending on people’s thinking. It’s like how people talk of Gandhi. Some support him some oppose him. Same was the case with Osama. Different people perceive them in different ways. But those people are not changing. They are not subjective. They are the same. Our perception is subjective.

By the way, I felt in your message as if I don’t support science. I just feel Science we study is Objective and does not give answers about the Subject. Spirituality covers that. Both Objective and Subjective Sciences are required. Nothing can be achieved if a person just keeps saying God God God.

Dialogue 5 | Believer Vs Non-Believer

RV: The Truth is for believers for non-believers it’s an idea until proven otherwise.
The Universe is just the result of big bang and billions years of subsequent cooling/evolution. God didn’t create man he evolved from apes. So is it satisfying to your intellect to believe that someone did that for you and not question its validity? That someone who controls your thought process? And that if it was created by someone in this time fabric, he may have created similar/better ones in other dimensions of space; aren’t you curious about that? Aren’t you curious about how your life is not just decided by believers but also non-believers who you think are also controlled by god? And not think about the fact that every good thing is dedicated to god and self-blame or blame the evil for bad effects?
All our rishis were philosophers; they did not finish the work, they left a lot of open ended questions. When you come to a dead end you don’t stop and say – ok god put it here and maybe he wanted me to stop doing things and doesn’t want me to proceed instead you find another way to get out.
If there is no world and only god, what would you say about all the dictators and rapists?
Wait, do you mean to say that the term god is subjective and can be construed the way we want it to.

VR: Phew! That was a big list…but good thoughts. Honestly, I admit that I do not have answers to all your questions. However, I do have questions to your answers. Before I list them out, there’s a question that you need to answer – Who is asking all these questions? Is it RV? Then please explain to me who you are? Because RV is just your name. You existed even before this name was given to you.
My analogy as per my understandings of whatever little I’ve learnt from the scriptures…
For me, the Cause and Effect Theory (in Philosophy it’s called Karma Theory) makes sense which says:
1. For every Cause, there is an Effect
2. If the Cause is removed from the Effect, nothing remains
3. An Effect is nothing but the Cause itself but in another form
4. An Effect is concurrent and inherent in the Cause
e.g. for 1: There are many examples but I can think of one immediate example…This message I’m typing is the Effect of your message to me – the Cause
e.g. for 2: The Cause for a mud pot is Mud. The Effect is the Pot. If we remove Mud from the Pot, nothing remains
e.g. for 3: A Seed grows into a Plant. Plant is nothing but seed grown into a different form
e.g. for 4: Smokers usually have the smokers’ cough. The Cough is Concurrent in smoking. Smoking can cause cancer. Cancer is Inherent in smoking.
Science talks about Objective Science…about the world we perceive, about the planets, about our body & mind and how it works, etc. Spirituality is a subjective science which talks about the Subject who does all this enquiries. The Rishis were Subjective scientists who were interested in studying the subject. Their discoveries in Objective sciences were only byproducts in their path of enquiry of the subject. They started their enquiry with the questions – Who am I? Who is asking these questions? Is it the mind? Is it the intellect? If it be so, then did I have this same intellect when I was born? No. So the intellect kept developing. It kept changing just like the mind and the body. It is just like the world we see, it changes. For every changing thing, there has to be a changeless substratum that holds it. A clocks needle cannot move and show time correctly if there’s no pin under it that remains motionless and stands as substratum. If a train has to move, the tracks have to be stationery. If we analyse in this way, we can see that there’s a changeless substratum that remains still so that the changes can take place.

What is the changeless substratum in me which is seeing all these changes in the world, in my body, in my mind, in my intellect and in my ego? All these things are changing but ‘I’ the Experiencer is not changing. ‘I’ can remember some incidents that happened to me when I was three years old, when my body, my mind, my intellect & my ego were different. The enquiry starts with this – I.
When was I born? When was the exact moment when I came into existence? Or when did I exactly come to this planet? – the logic we get is as below:
Since Karma Theory holds true, I analyse using the same. If I’m the Effect, there must be some Cause to me. I cannot come from nowhere. So, I existed in my mother’s womb before I was born and before that I existed in my parents’ bodies. From where did I come to my parents’ bodies? From the food that they ate. So I existed in the food. From where did I come into the food? From the water it took in, from the soil and from the air. So this ‘I’ must have been present in all of them in different forms before I finally took this form. If I go on analyzing like this, the chain becomes endless. There’s no end to this Cause and Effect. For every Effect, there has to be a Cause. But what resulted in the first Cause? The first Cause should then be the Ultimate Cause, the Changeless Substratum, which supports all the other changes caused by Cause & Effect. It is that Changeless Substratum that is called God.

Dialogue 4 | Believer Vs Non-Believer

VR: I’ve been saying my thoughts…never asked yours. What do you think?

RV: i am agnostic i want to believe but there is so much suffering around us that everything else seems not true. So i ask questions ;-).

I must add you digressed I never asked you to describe god. I asked who created god.

VR: Swami Chinmayananda himself was a non-believer. He went to the Himalayas to expose Swamis whom he considered as a burden on the society and who he thought lived like parasites.

Only a non-believer will question to that extent that he will not quit until he gets 100% clarity. Vivekananda was a non-believer too. He questioned Ramakrishna and tested his own guru in many different ways until he was convinced.

I believe we need to think from a non-believer’s point of view to get proper clarity of anything. Last year, I had been for a CHYK (Chinmaya Yuva Kendra) camp. The camp was on ‘My Karma’. There was a debate session which involved two teams – one supporting Destiny and the other supporting Self-Effort. The ones who believed in Destiny, believed in fate. The ones who believed in Self-Effort believed that everything was a result of our own self-effort. The whole debate brought so much clarity to all of our thinking (thanks to the Swamiji who confused us all the more by asking questions from a non-believer’s point of view). It is then I realised how important it is to think from a non-believer’s stand point to get full conviction.

The funny part in the debate was, it was won by a third team which believed that both Destiny and Self-Effort are there in our lives. They argued their points very well. They took all the good points from both the teams and made them their points. One of them was in 6th std and the other in 7th std. We elders were clean bowled in front of them.

But, ya, that camp gave a lot of answers to questions like… Why do good people suffer? Can we change our future? etc.

On your remark that I digressed when you asked about God…my answer is

I made it elaborate because if I directly make my point – Nobody created God. He was the Ultimate Cause to which there can be no other cause – i don’t know how much sense would it make to you? Hence I went talking on God.

RV: Ok. Let me rephrase it so you think God existed from the beginning and someone planted this idea in us, right? So the implantation of idea created god, for us and whoever did that created god. And it has to be a man because animals do not care or feel the need to thank anybody.

And yes, people who believed in self effort and destiny…true…both are important.

VR: How did this creation come into existence? How is it that such a beautiful universe was created with so much minuteness? All this is the result of just a big bang or just terming the whole creation as science, is hard to believe and does not satisfy the intellect. There has to be some Creator who is powerful than any of the things we see.

Among all the living creatures man being blessed with the highest intellect, was not satisfied by merely getting lost enjoying in this world by satisfying his senses. Thus, a few of the most observing & thinking kind of men of the yore questioned this and started enquiring. The Truth, not the idea but the Truth, that God exists was realised by few such men who lived more than an animalistic human life.

God Alone exists. There are no two – God and the World, but just One – God. He alone manifests in different forms.

Dialogue 3 | Believer Vs Non-Believer

RV: Who created God?

VR: I’m afraid, I’m not qualified to answer that question. But still I’ll try to ‘explain’ what i think about It or Him or whatever.

A dancer, when she is involved in the act of dancing, can we separate the dancer and the dance? the dancer’s creativity is expressed in the form of a dance. when we see the dance, we are so involved in it that we may not see the dancer. the dancer did not create the dance, she just expressed herself which resulted in the dance.

When God expresses himself, there is a world we see (just like the dance). When one is able to see beyond the creation, he sees God everywhere and no creation. For him, the creation never existed. The only thing that exists, is

RV: So you mean to say his creations created him in other words man created god.

VR: No. It’s the other way round. God expressed Himself as man, nature, animals, birds, etc.

RV: If you think he created us then you must definitely think he put the thought process. so you mean he created creations who could thank him in return. That is a very creature-like behavior.
If you think he did not put the thought process, then we can definitely experience him if he exits and if we train ourselves because our thoughts are beyond his control.

VR: * The waves of the ocean appear different when we look at its form – the waves. But when we look at the ocean, the waves are nothing but the ocean manifesting as waves and then dying out.

* Layman looks at the form of the gold ornaments and gets delighted. But the wise one, a goldsmith, looks only at the Substance – the Gold. He sees value only in Gold and is not concerned about its form.

* If I’m not wrong, first science used to say that there is Energy and Matter. Later they discovered that even matter is nothing but energy itself. Hence, the whole world is nothing but Energy.
In Advaita philosophy, the same thing is said about God.
Whatever we discuss or analyse cannot describe what God is. I liked one of the quotes of Swami Tejomayananda (global head of Chinmaya Mission) – “Don’t stop thinking at any point. Sometimes you feel that you have got a clarity over something. Don’t settle there. Keep thinking.”

RV: I liked the quote 😉

VR: sounds like you liked ‘only’ the quote 😉

Dialogue 2 | Believer Vs Non-Believer

RV: Einstein and all the others you mentioned were Maharishis; their contribution to society is beyond respect.

Everything you mentioned is pure metaphysics a branch of philosophy which is quite gibberish to some.

You can measure the quantity of water in an ocean with a teaspoon if you know the volume of the concave but the problem is not with the instrument; it s with the ocean. Ocean like everything else is ever changing; lots of factors affect that quantity of water in the ocean.

I would not say everything is beyond the intellect. That’s why I said that it is subjective. Understanding is quite a stepwise process e.g a child wouldn’t understand the special theory of relativity not because he isn’t intelligent but because he doesn’t know the fundamentals that is needed to grasp it. When we say that we won’t understand something that just means we haven’t trained ourselves with the necessary foundation.

Probably we aren’t trained enough!

VR: About measuring the quantity of water…was just a hypothetical one I used. Scientifically or mathematically, anything that is finite can be measured. Ocean or water in that way is finite. When we talk about God, we are talking about infinity. But to explain infinity, we may have to take some finite examples.

What you said about understanding is true. We are not trained enough. What I meant about ‘beyond intellect’ is…something like understanding and experiencing electricity. The ‘experience’ of electricity cannot be described or intellectually understood. Hence, I feel, it can be termed as ‘beyond intellect’. Realising God, they say, is an Experience and not an Understanding. Intellect can understand but cannot Experience.

RV: How do you define Experience?

VR: Experience cannot be defined. When we define something, we use words or language. Words and languages are finite. When I saw my son for the first time, it was a great experience. How much ever I try to express it in terms of words, I can’t express that ‘experience’.

RV: So according to you, when you feel something and think that it cannot be expressed in words, you would tag it as an experience.

VR: Yes. Because, a person who gets drunk cannot express the experience to those who never got drunk.

A person who gets an electric shock cannot express in words and make the other person (who has not got a shock till now) understand how he felt.

An Experience cannot be Explained. It can only be Experienced!

Dialogue 1 | Believer Vs Non-Believer

RV: Here’s a question for you: Why Vishnu avatars always blue in color? General perspective: they have a darker complexion. My take which is as usual ridiculous…it mixes science and philosophy  the poet (Valmiki) wanted his main character to have a lot of depth in personality and to be full of colors.
Raja Ravi Verma who gave Shri Rama his color gave him blue color for the same reason. To layman he appears blue, like sky which appears blue because of term called Rayleigh’s scattering. Much of the shorter wavelength light is absorbed by the gas molecules and this absorbed blue light is then radiated in different directions. It gets scattered all around the sky. So the painter wanted to convey that if you are calm you may find him colorless but if you are full of energy (restless/of shorter wavelength/higher frequency) which most people are; you will see him in blue. He also conveyed that he is a layman and therefore he sees him in color blue . Ridiculous I know…but it’s my take.

VR: Well thought buddy!!! I had heard that the blue colour represents depth but never thought of in terms of frequency or wavelength. Excellent point! The presentation of most of the Avataars & Shiva in blue colour is to represent the depth or infinity. Same is the case with rakshasas…they are depicted in black colour to represent their cruelty. (I remember when I was a child and used to watch uncle scrooge’s cartoons, the beagle boys’ t-shirts were always in stripes…and I used to think that people in stripes are thieves…hee hee…).

RV: Black with Rakshas is simple. Black absorbs light in this case energy and therefore considered negative!

VR: Scientific Rishi 

RV: Ok one more thing the term Rishi in ancient times meant PhD (I think) because Valmiki who was a scheduled tribe became a maharishi after his treatise became famous…consider a Pulitzer prize. I think the term Brahmin meant a PhD because in our ancient books they say to achieve brahmanhood you have to achieve enlightenment or create something…an idea or its equivalent…i.e a philosophy that’s y ancient books say that anybody can be a brahmin but not everybody can be a brahman  i.e. winning a noble prize or Pulitzer . But there is a lot of metaphysics in brahmanhood and therefore its interpretation can be subjective.

VR: I’m enjoying this…
Rishi is much more than PhD. People like J.C.Bose, Einstein, Srinivasa Ramanujan, etc can be called Rishis of modern times. They were all the Baaps among those who did PhDs.
Brahmin was a person who has a temperament towards learning the scriptures, Vaishya – one who was businessminded, kshatriya – warrior and shudra – worker class. As you rightly said, anybody could be a Brahmin.

Brahmanhood is hard to explain and conceive. Enlightenment is a word near to Brahmanhood but it’s not like creating an idea or philosophy. Brahmanhood is realising our ‘True’ nature…experiencing who we are. Today we might theoretically or intellectually accept that we are the life force or energy or soul living in this body. But that is just technical understanding and not an experience.

The Rishis, on their enquiry, found out that we are not the body. They thought, if we say “My dress, My hand, My body, My Mind, My Intellect, etc…then I AM different from my dress, hand, body, mind, intellect, etc. Then who is this I?” This ‘I’ is the subject who witnesses all experiences the body, mind and intellect goes through. Thus, if my body is weak, I AM not weak. If a person’s mind is corrupt, only his mind is corrupt. Since he is different from his mind, HE is not corrupt.
Even if a person might understand this, he has still not experienced WHO HE IS. The Self is beyond the body, mind and intellect. And today we have not gone beyond the BMI. Hence we become happy and sad depending on the experiences we gain through our BMI.
A person who has attained Brahmanhood (a Self-Realised Master) is one who has gone beyond the BMI. He is not at all affected by any problems at physical, mental or intellectual level. Reaching such a state and staying there at all times is called – Brahmanhood.
Interpretation is done through Intellect. That is why it becomes subjective. How can we gain something through Intellect when that thing is beyond Intellect? It’s like trying to measure the quantity of water in the ocean with an instrument like Teaspoon.
By the way, Valmiki was not a scheduled tribe.