One of the few things that both religion and science agree on is - "Change is the only permanent thing". This, however, gives an impression that change is linear and irreversible. But if you see all around us, change is not linear. It is always circular. Look at the seasons. Winter feels like it will never end but then Summer comes in. And just when the heat wave reaches the peak, we know the cold face of earth has started taking the shape. Same is true about the happiness and pains. Friends and family. Relationships. The change is mostly circular. Yes , there may be subtle changes in terms of places , people or patterns but by and large, things repeat themselves enough times for us to see a wave like pattern.
The question is "do we have something that is not changing ?". This is a doubt worth entertaining. Isn't it ? Because if there is something immutable, it might be a good idea to make that as our basis. It makes sense to stick to that center around which all this is rotating in a circular-ish move. Is there a fulcrum, a pivot or an axis around which this entire visible or perceptible universe is dancing ? We know from our experience that we can only observe the change. For example we can only see if there is a change in the color. If everything had the same color as the backdrop, there is nothing to see. Our touch senses only if there is a change in the texture. In essence, our senses are designed to observe only "change". No wonder what we perceive is always changing because that is what we are looking for.
This might sound a circular argument but the very definition of change is hinged on the fact that there must be something fixed. Or at least relatively stable frame of reference. And this is not an alien science. We see many things around us that are relatively stable. In fact we fancy stable technologies. We seek stable friends. Earth is good because gravitational pull is quite stable. Imagine if gravity changed the way weathers do. Half the weight in summer when you want a beach body and double the size in winter when you can safely tuck the belly in an oversize coat :-)
Gita's take on this is in line with the above argument. It says there are two fundamental parts ..
- One that changes -
Kshr- All of manifested universe is part of this. This is what we can perceive with our senses.
- Other that never change -
Atma[protected] knowledge is immutable. The good news is this what we are. Even though we can't play around with this part through our senses, it is still accessible to us and drives most of our actions.
The question still remains why change occurs in the manifested. To understand it , let us first see what exactly is manifested and how we perceive it ..
Manifestation is the expansion of information. Information, by definition means something that can be informed. In other words it is something that can be experienced through senses. Everything that we can observe directly with our senses (or by enhancing our perception through tools) is essentially "information". As we saw in last section, information is
Shruti - something that can be heard ! Now of course we can read it or watch a video or even see face to face. A house is information. Clothes are information and so is a book. Everything is a
Shruti. The Hindu scripture names few
shrutis as the messages from kings and from the saints - Those were passed on a hearsay but broader definition is something that we can experience with the senses.
On the other hand, knowledge is something that can only be experienced - it is beyond senses. It is beyond communication. Ask someone who creates a poem, sings a song or makes an airplane. An airplane is a manifestation. We can see it. But how it is created is so unique to the engineers who make it. You can't make a plane or music just by seeing a plane or a concert. You can't even make a car just by reading a book on the automotive engineering. Ask Elon Musk about the manufacturing hell :-) . You need to engage in the action
Karma as a ritual
Yajna leads to the knowledge that eventually translates into the manifestation. Once something manifests - a meme, a joke , a rocket , a book or a poem - It becomes a
Shruti. It has it's own expression. But the knowledge remains with the one who performed the
Yajna as her
Smriti. In a way every manifestation presents an opportunity to know something deeper. It tells us that someone has spent umpteen days and months in creating this and we can also achieve that skill through rigor or practice.
In a way the knowledge is like a little black hole in you. Even you can't see it with your senses. You really don't know how you hit the baseball so perfectly while others can't even connect. You have sure done ton of practice but what is in you to hit that ball is beyond you. Every one is, however, informed well when you hit the home run. That is a manifestation of home run. You can make it an NFT if you want :-)
At the same time you do want to tell them all about this thing. Words alone don't help - why not just sing that song. Why not fly a drone - The knowledge drives the urge to share. How you package the information to share is up to you. May be you are a master of words , or you are an engineer - the way you share is what you manifest - that other conscious agents could touch and feel. What you can't share is the knowledge. Your
smriti dawns on you through
yajna but stays with you.
With every new iteration, you improve your manifestation a tiny bit. That is how older code gets more stable. More bugs are fixed. It now runs on more platforms. If you are reading this book , I am sure there are typos. Probably some of the topics don't make sense; but the 20th edition of this book will be impeccable if I continue to refine it. You see the point - the change is because we are always improving the things. Even if I don't improve this text, I am sure there are many others who are writing on this topic. Some of them will sure take it as a life mission. If you want to read a book or use an app , you would always seek for the latest version. No one ever asks for the alphas or betas. But the improvements are always better information. The 100th edition of Organic Chemistry is not something that can teach you chem without ever going to lab. May be there are better graphics, an online tutorial but you still need to solve those problems yourself in order to appreciate binomial theorem.
Now, certain manifestations are only for the consumption. These manifestations change even faster. Because the whole purpose is to make you invest your time without any good reason. That is the reason most of the things on Netflix are so addictive . Game of Thrones invests more only on the back ground music than the entire budget of CS curricula. Which means that the fast changing artifacts or technologies are generally traps for your time. Anyway, we digressed - the point I am making is , manifestations are always changing to make them more palatable and we always intend to enjoy the latest version. That is why there are always new leaves. Newer versions of the same app. New shows. New stars - both in the tinsel town and in the night sky that you saw twenty years back to write your poem.
You are probably reading this text on a beautiful user interface of your smart device. Some of you, who still lug around a bulky laptop for work, may be reading it on the Windows UI. Windows 10 is pretty good though Microsoft recently announced an all new interface in Windows 11 :-) . If you are a creative type, you might be using a Mac to read this in your shiny Safari . And then there are few Linux geeks who still use a command line interface to do all things. Yes, there are text browsers that can somehow render a web page without a drop of Java Script :-) Bottom line is - you need an interface to read something as simple or as complex as a web page. The type and nature of the interface doesn't really matter. The question is what exactly is the interface ?
Interface is the mechanism through which our senses interact with the information (manifestations)
Let us expand this a little more. The moment we open our eyes , what we see is the interface. A glorious three dimensional interface. Our ears, skin , nose - the senses other than the eyes , don't need a three dimensional interface but the perceptions we get through these senses - even the perception of the taste , is through an interface. Really ?
You may argue that ears don't need an interface. You can say that the sound can simply get into our ears and then into our brains. Yes, it can but how do we differentiate the barking sound of a dog from that of the cat purrs ?
Interface is NOT one that observes. Observations are done by the senses. Interface is where we make sense of the observations. If there was no auditory interface, the sounds or big bull dog and that of the tiny cat won't seem different to us. We wont be able to differentiate the taste of Napa red from that of Scotland fluids. We have a pre existing copy of the taste of coffee and that is what makes us distinguish it from the Darjeeling tea. You may recall the discussion on
Dhritis. Our evaluation of observation v/s what we have as a reference point is lot more than a computer matching the cat pics because what we invoke is an enchilada of emotions. That is the reason some people might throw up at the sight of a someone killing an animal but the same person may not think twice eating the same animal at a fancy restaurant.
In the last chapter, we understood that the "doubts" are our pre conceived notions that we check against reality through actions. Thus interface is a place where we match our "doubts" with the sensory inputs. You can look at a picture of Golden Gate Bridge and tell that it is different from the Brooklyn Bridge because you can match your eyes' three dimensional input with the pre existing picture in your brain. It is also a place where you make an assumption about the reality and take a call to test your presumption against reality. Interface works great with the active senses but they are not mandatory. For example we can have experiences in the dreams. Dreams feel quite real but in reality we want to make sure that we are not dreaming something. We want to continuously assess our reality and most of the time we run ahead of the actual event because we have expectations tied to most of our actions. For example, if you put a kettle on the stove, you know it is going to boil soon , you check if it is done or not. In our survival oriented world, we are continuously assessing the manifestations against our expectations. As discussed above, the information bout manifestations changes rather quickly these days. Thus we are mostly busy in assessing the change .. No wonder our reality is always changing.
Interface is NOT something external. It is with in us. That is the reason my perception of reality is different from you. And we both see the world in totally different light v/s a dog though the dog has almost same number of senses.
After a day's hard work, you decided to open the bottle of that Napa red , the costly one and sat down on your couch to watch something good. You click past the never ending list of titles on Prime Videos, nothing really matches the mood. You shuffle between Prime to Netflix to Hulu to HBO , and then something gets your attention. You click to read the abstract and may be watch a trailer. Why ?
Because you have a unique presumption of this evening. May be you want to watch some action but with a mix of meaningful emotional drama and something intelligent though not crossing over to sci fi. The "Dark Knight" sounds perfect but you have already seen it though you have almost forgotten the story line. May be new Joker but that one seems bit too much psycho -ish. Okay, the point is - you are choosing one or may be two or max three titles out of thousands of options available to you online.
The things that you want to indulge in are the things that matter from interface standpoint. Rest everything is noise. Another example - Let us say you are driving on the freeway. Thousands of cars and Trucks are moving by your side. All you care is not to hit any of them. You don't really care if it is a car or a truck or plane. If we ensure you that your Tesla will never hit anything on the road , would you even notice what is going on on the road ? All that is noise. Billions of people living their lives, never criss crossing you , trillions of stars in the outer galaxy, millions of apps in the app store and everything that is out there - they all help make you what you are , but from "interface" standpoint, they are just noise. Don't get me wrong , that occasional Lamborghini on the road might catch your attention to inspire you but you rarely notice the things in this vast expanse. Yet, here we are with all those tiny twinkling stars in the night sky. Oh well , they helped you write a poem some twenty years back :-)
It doesn't matter if you are looking at this page through Android UI or iOS , or on Mac or in a text Browser. The interface in your mind can match the sensory inputs that came into your brain through a set of actions or the noticeable things in the noise, with the pre existing notions. This is where we create our beautiful (or mundane) reality. A three dimensional visual box , a deep auditory pipe and flattish sense of touch and taste. The remarkable thing of interface is our ability to verify pan senses. For example, we may hear a sound and we can perceive that it is a train coming from distance and when we open our eyes we do see a train at a distance. Not an aeroplane. All this is good.
But we know for sure that senses can only observe information. We can't communicate knowledge thus "knowledge" is beyond senses and thus "knowledge" is beyond this very intricate interface.
Just to put it all together, we talked about
Vrittis - our emotional response to the sensory observations and that the
Vrittis are part of the
Chakras in our body. Obviously these
Chakras are not some physical organs in the body. What they call them in
Hath Yoga is the
Sookshma Sarira as opposed to the
Sthool Sarira that we see with organ and blood and the medical anatomy. As our senses indulge with the manifestations , the
Vrittis are invoked and contrasted to all the
Dhritis - the subtle memories that we have. In a way
Smriti is a superset of all the
Dhritis and lot more. All this hit and trial happens in the "interface" and as a net result, the
Chakras in the body start spinning faster or slower. This is a continuous exercise - even sleep is not excluded. The spin of
Chakras is not a bad thing. This is what presents us new ideas for survival and growth. Without all this spin, we would not even be there or still be a single cell micro organism. While at a physical level, our body is surviving ; at meta physical level we are expanding our ID. Now we own a car, a home , a business , a family and extra large circle of Instagram friends. We now identify ourself with lot more than just the body suit we got at the birth. With Id we have grown a vast array of
Ahmkara - the ego and of course we are susceptible to the bugs of Matrix.
What we lose in this process is our natural spin. We distance ourselves from our
Svabhava. Good or bad ? is subjective and is based on situation and what you really want to do with your life. After all this is your life. What Gita says, however, is very clear. It says that once you distance yourself from your
Svabhava , indulging in actions (as a ritual) will get difficult. In fact,
Nishkaam Karma - actions without desires will become almost impossible. Thus you will be lost in the cycles of happiness and pain. If and when you get tired of this cyclic nature , the first thing you will need to do is get to your natural spin. How do we do that ?
Given that you are a successfully surviving human of 21st century , the odds are you are spinning lot faster. The only way to calm yourself down in to take a break from the interface. Which means minimise your sensory inputs. Keep a tab on the curiosity for the change. Develop a certain degree of faith if you can and let go chasing everything new. What you have is probably more than enough for your survival - the real physical survival - not the survival in the race. This is kinda pre-requisite to even indulge in
Nishkaam Karma. A clean slate. A stable state of the mind. Knowledge that change and chase is only in the information. They don't have much to do with the "Knowledge" that lies with in us but is hidden or covered by this ever changing shiny interface. It is something like getting your kitchen garden soil ready to sow the seeds of actions. Remove all the weeds. Fix the water supply. Understand the exposure. And get things under a tighter control with in you. This is no easy task given the temptations and the opportunities to indulge. This is where most of the techniques of Yoga - as in
Nyaan Yoga ,
Bhakti Yoga ,
Samtva Budhi Yoga or Hath Yoga
come in to play. They are all there to enable you in entertainDhyana
and then initiate yourYajna
. No matter what you do , the initition of your ritual of actions will always be with some sort of desire. You will need many iterations to weed the desires out even though they will keep cropping back. In doing this , you will finally end up in Karm Yoga` the state of desireless actions and everlasting peace.
The discussion about change will only be half done without thinking about the one that is unchangeable. It is quite this simple -
if we don't observe the change, what we are looking at is unchangeable.
And it truely is. I guess it will be clear in another property of
Atma and that is
Avyakta - the one that can't be revealed. This property comes from the simple fact that we are always focused on change. Our observations and interface is designed to pick up the changes and thus we scoop over the "fixed". Again , this is not alien science. We see it everyday. We try new electroics on daily basis without ever looking at the electricity. We appreciate the output of the hard work without alluding to the energy. We see the spin in everything without noticing the angular momentum. And let me know if anyone seen the "Gravity". It is NOT to blame us or our observatories , it is just to say that we are trying to use a wrong set of tools or our approach to seek the truth is misplaced. Krishna reveals this in chapter 10 where he explains to Arjuna as to what exactly is the shape of divine "Knowledge" . In verse 20 to 42 he explains where to look for him and what does he look like. He says
- I am the soul, pince victorious, which dwells in the hearts of all things. I am the beginning , the middle and end of all that lives.
- Among the sons of light, I am the Vishnu, and of the luminaries the radiant sun. I am the lord of the windsand storms, and of the lights in the night I am the moon.
- Of the Vedas I am the Veda of songs, and I am Indra, the chief of the Gods. Above man's sense I am the mind, and in alll living beings I am the light of consciousness.
- Among the terrible powersI am the God of destruction; and among mosters Vittesa, the lord of wealth. Of radiant spirits I am fire; and among the high mountains the mountain of the gods.
- Of priests I am the divine priest Brishaspati , and among warriors Skanda, the god of war. Of lakes I am the vast ocean.
- Among great seers I am Bhrigu; and of the words I am OM, the word of Eternity. Of prayers I am the prayer of silence; and of the things that move not I am the Himalayas.
- Of trees, I am the tree of life, and of heavenly seers Narada.Among celestial musicians, Chitra-ratha; and among seers on earth Kapila.
- Of horses I am the horse of Indra, and of the elephants his elephant Airavta. Among men I am king of men.
- Of weapons I am thunderbolt, and of the cows the cow of wonder. Among creators I am the creator of love; and among serpants the serpant
Shesh Nagathe serpant of Eternity.
- Smong the snakes of mystry, I am Ananta, and of those born in water I am Varuna, their lord. Of the spirits of the fathers I am Aryaman, and of the rulers
Yama- the ruler of death.
- Of demons I am Prahlada, their prince, and of all things that measure I am time. Of beasts I am the king of beasts and of birds Vainateya, who carries a God.
- Among things of purification I am the wind, and among warriors I am Rama, the hero supreme. Of fishes in the sea I am Makra the wonderful and of rivers the holy Ganges.
- I am the beginning and the middle and the end of all that is. Of all knowledge, I am the knowledge of the Soul. Of many paths of reason I am the one that leads to Truth.
- Of sounds, I am the first sound, A; of compounds I am coordination. I am time. Never ending time. I am the creator who see all.
- I am death that carries off all things, and I am the source of things to come. Of feminine nouns I am fame and prosperity; speech , memory and and intelligence; Constancy and patient forgiveness.
- I am Brihat song of all songs of Vedas. I am Gaytri of all the measures in verse. Of months I am the first of the year, and of the seasons the season of flowers.
- I am cleverness in the gamblers's dice. I am the beauty of all things beautiful. I amm victory and the struggle for victory. I am the goodness of those who are good.
- Of the children of Vrishni, I am Krishna; and of the sons of Pandu I am Arjuna. Among the seers in silence I am Vyasa; and among poets I am poet Ushna
- I am the specter of the rulers of men; and I am the wise policy of those who seek victory. I am the silence of the hidden mysteries; and I am the knowledge of those who know.
- And know Arjuna, that I am the seed of all things that are; and that no being that moves or move not can ever be without me.
But at the end Krishna says - and that is all important
There is no end to my divine greatness. What I have spoken here is only a small part of my infinity. Know thou that whatever is beautiful and good, whatever has glory and power is only a portion of my radiance. But of what help is to thee to know this diversity ? Know that with one single fraction of my being I pervade and support this universe, and know that I am.