30 Apr

Quantum Theory and Human Experience

That quantum theory tells us something new about the material world, as compared to classical physics, is undisputed. The dispute is regarding what the new thing is that quantum theory is telling us. Accordingly, there are numerous interpretations of quantum theory, some even by those who claim to follow the Vedic traditions. However, in none of these interpretations do we find a clear articulation of the nature of free will, how this free will interacts with matter, the question of right and wrong action, which then leads to moral consequences, and how such consequences shape the future experiences. The crux of Vedic philosophy is not a theory of matter, but how consciousness interacts with matter, how this interaction is judged right and wrong, and how that judgement produces new circumstances, in which the living entity is successively trapped. When these central ideas are ignored or marginalized, then the interpretation constitutes a heresy. In this post I will discuss how quantum theory can be seen as a theory of moral causality.

Read More

23 Mar

The Four Tiers of Reality

The previous post discussed the meaning of sat, chit, and ananda—i.e. consciousness, the search for meaning, and the search for happiness. The search for meaning creates a personality—i.e. how others know you. The search or happiness creates an individuality—i.e. what kinds of pleasures one enjoys. The individuality and personality create many conflicts, because what you enjoy may not be meaningful, and what is meaningful may not be enjoyable. We all know that we need both meaning and happiness, and doing one or the other would not suffice. The conflict between meaning and happiness is resolved by a third category—consciousness—which, as we have seen before, exists as choice. The resolution is that sometimes we prefer meaning over happiness, and at other times we prioritize happiness over meaning. This post discusses the implications of these categories and how a three-fold distinction within transcendence not only creates different tiers within a spiritual reality, but is also the basis of the three modes of material nature.

Read More

22 Mar

The Pursuit of Meaning and Happiness

“The pursuit of happiness and meaning are two of our most central motivations in life” but “there can be substantial trade-offs between seeking happiness and seeking meaning in life,” writes Scott Barry Kaufman in a thought-provoking Scientific American post. In a stereotypical sense, the pursuit of meaning is one that involves connecting our lives to something larger than our life—e.g. society, nation, race, the universe, or God—thereby broadening our consciousness to what exists beyond our small, temporary, and irrelevant existence. The pursuit of happiness, however, in a stereotypical sense, narrows that focus to our body and mind, and often much smaller subsets of it—e.g. sexuality, romance, food, drink, or music. In these stereotypical ways, the pursuit of meaning is selfless, while that of happiness selfish. And yet, we could not live without both. How should we reconcile them? This post discusses this question from the perspective of Vedic philosophy where meaning and happiness are two different aspects of the soul—called chit (meaning) and ananda (happiness)—chosen by a third aspect called sat (consciousness).

Read More