Dear Dr. Ramesam Garu:
Thank you for giving me
an opportunity to read your article on “Meditations
on Advaita.” Although I find it interesting
reading, I can’t fail to notice the logical
gaps as well as scientific leaps in the reasoning
in the paper, as I shall presently point out.
Your fascination for science is evident in the
paper. However, the paper represents, to my mind,
another misguided attempt to bridge science and
spirituality and to look toward science to help
us achieve spiritual goals.
You pursue several aims
in your paper: 1) to give an ‘evolutionary
and scientific account’ of some key ideas
and concepts in the field of spirituality (such
as ‘mentation’, ‘thought’, ‘self’ and ‘consciousness’);
2) give an account of what you think goes in
the Advaitic (or some other) meditational process
by supplying their scientific equivalents; 3)
give your scientific explanation/justification
for some of the goals of meditation; 4) and finally,
supply some kind of scientific or technological
agenda for achieving spiritual goals such as
liberation. In your paper you draw freely from
brain chemistry, neurophysiology, sociology,
evolutionary biology and other scientific sources.
To begin with, you say:
thinking leads us to the surprise finding that
nothing was ever created and all our troubles
are the result of mentation, which is responsible
for generating an imaginary ‘self’.”
You may consider this
is as ‘incisive logical thinking’,
but no psychologist or sociologist will confirm
such a conclusion, for the normal thinking of
the scientist is to say that ‘mentation’ may
cause our ‘troubles’ and the ‘self’;
but they are also our virtues as a human being
and make us what we are. (It would be interesting
for you to show how ‘mentation’ causes
the ‘imaginary self’.)
You talk about ‘search’ for
the Perceiver and you come up with various stages
in the search such as sense organs. You give
scientific equivalents of these items at various
stages: but you fail to note that the items that
are a result of search are entirely different
entities from your scientific (physiological
or brain) equivalents or your explanations. No
one in their ‘search’, for instance,
confronts the ‘I’-ness as an ‘epiphenomenon’,
nor consciousness as the ‘detector element’!
You talk as if what one finds in one’s
search and the scientific phenomena you present
as their equivalents are one and the same: for
instance, you say: “Thus, indriyas , I-ness
and the non-existing “self” are all
brain processes that help in our apperception
of what is seen.”
I am not sure what the
point of this scientific analysis is.
In the following, again,
you talk about ‘consciousness’ and ‘life-force’ as
entities in their own right and look for their ‘source.’
So consciousness and life-force
must have come from something else. That “something” must
have existed prior to these two.
That “something” should
obviously be independent of both consciousness
and life-force. That is to say it should be immaterial
to that “something” whether an organism
is living or dead. Therefore, it must be ever
present and should transcend life, birth and
death. That “something” is “Awareness”.
Or call it by any other name you like.
Is there something prior
We have just no way of
Your scientific analysis
stops short of giving any explanation for ‘Awareness’.
Is it because there is no objective scientific
account that could be given for it? In that case,
how could you include it in your scientific picture
of what happens in meditation?
You seem to present the
whole process of meditational ‘search’ as
a logical process of thinking. Is it? If it is
not, what does one do in meditation? How does
the ‘search’ actually work?
I think your hope in writing
a paper like this is to provide not just some
sort of scientific account of what goes on meditation,
but also to provide what you think are tools
justified by science and congruent with tradition.
For instance, one could use methods such as pressing
the uvula with one’s tongue one could “suspend
mentation and life-process will stop.” Wouldn’t
one just die, then?
But you are not sure in
your hope. So you say:
Such techniques and more
vigorous tantric methods prescribed elsewhere
like further stretching the tongue to touch the
pituitary suggest that a state of null mind is
achievable through manipulation of brain.
Let us hope that future
scientific developments will be able to help
in bringing about a shift from “self” to “Self” in
the operational neuronal circuits of human brain.
This is just a hope (for
instance, one really has to stretch the tongue
quite far ‘to touch the pituitary!’).
Your scientific bias and faith in science are
well revealed in your hopes” that “a
state of null mind is achievable through manipulation
of brain,” and “future scientific
developments will be able to help in bringing
about a shift from “self” to “Self” in
the operational neuronal circuits of human brain.
You also believe that “Future
work on brain chemistry may be able throw up
more such molecules that define the “ineffable
bliss and inexplicable happiness” of a
Jivanmukta.” People are nowadays doing
with less than that, with ecstasy and such other
drugs, and they are content!
My final comment is, if
you hope to do this, then why bother with meditation
or any other spiritual pursuit? Why even say, “You
don’t have to acquire any knowledge...It
is actually giving up what you have?” (Tell
that to a scientist!) Why not just wait for science
to come up with the trick? The problem with that
approach, however, is that, once it is commercialized,
it would only be accessible to the rich and powerful
few! What happens to the rest of humanity? In
fact, you said in this regard:
In order to scale up for
mass application of what is achieved at an individual
level to all of humanity, it is necessary to
rewrite the high-skill algorithm to a low-skill
routine. Understanding neurochemistry and the
hierarchical neuronal “gateways” responsible
for operationalising a “Universal Self” as
against an individual “self” may
help in this direction.
P.S: By the way, I have
been putting up some notes and recent articles
of mine such as “Thought, the Natural State
and the Body -- Deconstruction of Spirituality
in UG Krishnamurti,” Phenomenological Deconstruction
(or Dissolution) of the Mind-Body Problem,” “Other
Minds, Privacy and Private Language,” “My
Last Visit with UG,” “Being with
UG – His Teaching Process,” and “How
I Met UG,” on my Blog
Page: You may be interested in checking them
With best regards,