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Notes relating to

Intensive Study Program


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THE EMERGING SCIENCESPIRITUALITY CONFLUENCE:


With specific reference to Quantum Mechanics and Relativity Theory
Being held at

NAVADARSHANAM
From

May 27th to June 1st, 2011


It is probably true quite generally that in the history of human thinking the most fruitful developments frequently take place at those points where two different lines of thought meet. These lines may have their roots in quite different parts of human culture, in different times or different cultural environments or different religious traditions; hence if they actually meet, that is, if they are at least so much related to each other that a real interaction can take place, then one may hope that new and interesting developments may follow.
- Werner Heisenberg, one of the founders of quantum mechanics

Section I: Introduction

WELCOME
to this five-day intensive study program on the emerging science-spirituality confluence. This program will focus on the possibility of the emergence of a new kind of science a science that accepts the reality of the spiritual dimensions. The foundations for this confluence were established nearly 100 years back in the form of Quantum Mechanics and Relativity Theory, but the implications of what these theories are telling us about the nature of the world we live in is beginning to be recognized only now and that too very slowly. Quantum Mechanics and Relativity Theory revolutionized the world of physics at the beginning of the 20th century. Physics is the bedrock of all branches of science. All the other branches try to emulate physics in the hope of achieving the same degree of success that physics has achieved in terms of mathematical modeling, accuracy and predictability. But what is being emulated today is physics as it stood at the end of the 19th century, and NOT the physics of the 20th century as shaped by Quantum Mechanics and Relativity Theory. Before the advent of QM and RT, physics envisaged the physical world as consisting of buildings blocks of matter what is generally called the atomic theory. Today, other branches of science follow the same building block concept without recognizing that it has been superseded in physics itself. Thus, in [allopathic] medicine, the body is seen as a collection of molecules, and all diseases and their treatment are worked out based on this assumption medical analysis is done on the basis of pathological tests which indicate the physical and chemical properties of the molecules in the body, and the medicines given are also characterized by their physical and chemical properties. In modern agriculture and genetic engineering, too, the properties of plants are seen as well as manipulated under the assumption that it is the molecular structures that are at the base of all living mechanisms. Even in physics itself, most scientists carry on as though the building block concept still holds good, and so the world is seen as comprising of sub-atomic particles such as electrons, neutrons and protons.
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But all physicists will admit, if probed, that these sub-atomic particles are not really particles. They will tell you that sub-atomic entities sometimes behave as particles and sometimes as waves, depending upon the questions that the experimental set-up designed to investigate their reality poses. This is often Page | 3 referred to as the particle-wave duality: the electron is thus neither a particle nor a wave, but it sometimes behaves as a particle, and sometimes as a wave. When thus explained, the layman usually accepts this as something about which the physicist knows what he is talking about, but which is beyond the ken of the ordinary man who has no knowledge of physics and mathematics. However, this hides an important fact: that the physicist himself is far from clear about what he means when he says the electron can behave as a wave. A wave is a word often used in common language, and hence the common man may think that when the electron or any other sub-atomic particle is described as a wave, it oscillates around the way waves do. This is far from the truth. When the subatomic particle is described as a wave, it means the particle itself does not exist: it is something else that exists, and this something else has eluded the grasp of physicists all through. Therefore, there is a big mystery here, an unresolved mystery: sometimes referred to as the Quantum Enigma. To understand the nature of this mystery, let us first look at the waves that common people are familiar with - sea waves, sound waves etc. When standing on the sea shore, we are thrilled to experience the waves that engulf our legs, but a deeper reflection reveals that these waves are not an entity by themselves. The actual entity is water, which has acquired a particular shape and momentum that makes us experience these waves (the water molecules actually are in circular motion, it is the combination of millions of such molecules which give rise to the feeling of a wave). Similarly, in the case of sound waves, it is the air molecules that go through a particular disturbance which creates the sound. If the disturbance is of a harmonic nature, we experience music, if not we experience noise. But both music and noise are disturbances created in air, which is the fundamental entity. In other words, waves are not fundamental entities and so are classified as epiphenomena. They are the result of

some other entity (classified as

phenomena, or the real thing) taking on a particular form. Thus, in the case of sea waves, it is water that is waving; in the case of sound waves, it is air that is waving; when we wave goodbye, it is the hand that does the waving. The fundamental question before physicists is: when an electron or any other sub- Page | 4 atomic particle behaves as a wave, what is the entity that is waving? To date, this is a mystery, and forms the core of the Quantum Enigma. In a very deep sense, therefore, we are deceiving ourselves when we say that all matter consists of sub-atomic particles, for they are not really particles, and so the building block theory of the structure of this universe no longer holds good. So, all the application sciences such as medicine (allopathy), biology, botany, genetics etc, which base themselves on this theory of building blocks are not taking into account the discoveries of 20th century science. The warning that the physicist Oppenheimer gave to psychologists in 1956, while addressing the American Psychological Association, holds good for all branches of science:
The worst of all possible misunderstandings would occur if psychology should be influenced to model itself after a physics which is not there any more, which has been quite outdated.

What Oppenheimer was telling the psychologists those whose job it is to study the invisible mind - is that 19th century physics was confident of explaining all invisible phenomena in terms of the visible, but that 20th century physics is actually concluding the opposite: that it is the invisible that forms the foundation for the visible. Another great physicist, Max Planck, put it very boldly:
As a man who has devoted his whole life to the most clear-headed science, to the study of matter, I can tell you as the result of my research about the atoms, this much: There is no matter as such. All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particles

of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent Mind. This Mind is the matrix of all matter.

How did Max Planck and his fellow-physicists reach such a revolutionary conclusion? They did not start out with the aim of doing so. Max Planck, whose work laid the foundation of Quantum Mechanics, has been called the reluctant revolutionary, for his aim was just the opposite: to explain the behaviour of sub- Page | 5 atomic particles as ordinary building blocks of matter. However, the strange and totally unexpected results of their experiments forced Planck and his fellowscientists to revise their concepts. Describing their dilemma, Niels Bohr, one of the principal contributors to QM, had said: Anyone not shocked by quantum mechanics has not understood

it. This is a famous statement, and most laymen who come across it assume that
the reference is to the intricate physics and mathematics that forms an integral part of this subject. However, it is the brute experimental results which physicists encountered when trying to understand the nature of the electron that is the shocking part, and these can be understood even by a person with no knowledge of physics or mathematics. True, mathematics has been used by physicists to explain these experimental results, but a knowledge of mathematics is not necessary to realize why Bohr insisted a shock is needed to grasp the nature of reality being pointed out by these experiments. To get an idea of the kind of shock that the physicists received while experimenting with electrons, let us think of a hide and seek game that you and I can play, in which one of us hides into one of two big cylinders in this room:

Let us say you close your eyes while I hide in either cylinder marked A and B above. When you open your eyes, you first look for any tell-tale signs to indicate which cylinder I might have entered into. Not finding any, you suddenly have a brain-wave. Being a scientist, you realize that the cylinders are made of material Page | 6 through which X-rays can pass without being impeded, and so if you put an X-ray machine at the top, and a photographic plate below each of the cylinders, switching on the machine for just a second will reveal to you my bone structures, and therefore whether I am hiding in A or B:

X-Ray Machine

Photographic plates

You then go through the above procedure of trying to guess my location with the help of the X-ray machine, fully expecting that one photographic plate will show bone structures, and the other will be blank. But if a bone structure is revealed in

each of those plates, wont you be taken aback? That is the kind of shock that the
QM experimenters encountered. Your immediate thought would be to suspect that I have cheated. So, you call out to me Hey, you cheat, you have brought in a third person to help you. I then come out of my hiding place let us say, cylinder A and protest my innocence by opening the hatch to cylinder B and show that it is empty. You point to the photographic plate under B, which clearly shows a bone structure inside the

cylinder. We are both intrigued, and so decide to repeat the X-ray, for which I get into A again. This time, the plate below B is blank, and we both have nearly concluded that there was an error in the first set-up, when we notice something interesting: that the X-ray on the photographic plate under cylinder A in the Page | 7 second shot is of a far, far better resolution than in the first case. Wont this kind of a result increase your sense of perplexity? That is again what happened to the QM experimenters. Intrigued, you and I decide to repeat the game. This time, it is your turn to hide, and you do so in cylinder B. Not knowing where you have hidden, I use the X-ray apparatus to take pictures, and discover, to my shock, that both the plates show your bones, but with low resolution. I exclaim Wow on seeing this, and, taken aback, you ask from within cylinder B you mean you too found two pictures?. Your exclaiming thus reveals your position inadvertently. I repeat my X-ray clicking with two new photographic plates and discover something really, really strange that this time there is only one image, which is of a better resolution, and under cylinder B. In other words, even though I had not seen you, the very knowledge I had of your position alters the way the X-ray images behave. Two low-resolution images appear whenever I am ignorant of your position, and only one image albeit a high-resolution one is the result if I am aware of your position, whether this knowledge is obtained by seeing or by indirect means. We repeat this experiment in a variety of ways, and we discover that no matter how we do it, the result is always the same two bodies are revealed if there is lack of knowledge of location of the body, and only one if prior knowledge of its location is obtained in any way. In other words, ones observation or knowledge creates the physical reality! That is the conclusion QM comes to as a result of experiments involving sub-atomic particles!! Like in our hide-and-seek game, they have been conducting games to figure out the nature of sub-atomic particles, which are invisible to the naked eye. Therefore, like in our hide-and-seek game, they too have used indirect methods of perception to arrive at their conclusions. Of course, their apparatus and experimental set-up are of a far, far greater degree of sophistication than the little game we looked at above, but the basic idea is the same how to arrive at conclusions about the invisible through what is visible. And the results have shocked them to the core, as Bohr stressed. Indeed, the actual results have been

even more shocking than what we witnessed in our little game One example - an electron in an atom can be in one place, and then, as if by magic, reappear in another without ever being anywhere in between the equivalent of you or I reaching New York or Moscow without travelling, and that too instantaneously. Page | 8 Even more bizarre, that the behavior of an electron at one end of the world can affect the behavior of another at the other end of the world, and that too instantaneously, without any apparent cause and effect relationship. Experiments at the quantum level have been repeated millions of times with a variety of sub-atomic particles, and have given consistently shocking results. In fact, they are being repeated every day in thousands of laboratories the world over, for the behaviour of sub-atomic particles forms the basis of one-third of our economy, including well-known, popular devices such as computers, MRIs and lasers. So, how come our scientific community is not in a perpetual state of shock? To get an idea of the answer to the above question, let us go back to our hide and seek game. Being scientists, you and I are excited about our discovery, and so send a detailed write-up on our experimental results to, say, the Principal Scientific Adviser to the ruler of the country. He shows it to the Boss, who does not have the patience to understand what has been placed before him. What does this Xray mentioned here mean?, he irritably asks his Advisor, who explains that an Xray reveals the health of a person by giving the image of his bones Oh, that is exactly what I was looking for, says the Boss, for I have just commandeered a force of 50,000 young men to fight a critical battle against the Enemy. But in order to win, I need to be sure they are all in robust health. So, will you ensure that your scientist friends out there make use of their X-ray machine to sort out the healthy from the unhealthy from amongst these 50,000? And of course, this exercise has to be done within a week, for the battle is about to start. Aye, aye, sir, says the Advisor, knowing he has no choice in the matter. So, suddenly, 50,000 young men are queuing up before our room, we do not have time even to re-set the X-ray machine. We ask each young man to quickly jump into any cylinder of his choice, and keep clicking the X-ray machine as fast as we can each time a person enters the room and jumps into a cylinder of his choice. We notice that whenever we are aware of which cylinder he enters, only one X-ray - a bright one appears,

and when we are ignorant of which cylinder he has entered, there are two x-rays, both rather dull. While this is intriguing, we have no time to reflect over it, for we have the deadline of finishing the job at hand. In any case, we tell ourselves, for all practical purposes, it doesnt matter whether we get two images or one. Our Page | 9 purpose knowing if the bone structure reveals a healthy person is achieved in either case. This is precisely what is happening in the world of science, and is the cause for Quantum Mechanics having led to the Bomb, when it was actually pointing to the Buddha. FAPP is a word often used by quantum physicists meaning for all practical purposes they do not need to resolve the Quantum Enigma. Many physicists even believe that no such Enigma exists, and that the Copenhagen interpretation (which we shall try to understand later) has resolved all philosophical questions regarding these quantum experiments. The Enigma is therefore often referred to as a measurement problem [meaning, the experimental set-up determines the nature of the subject being investigated], a term that enables physicists to duck the deeper questions behind the mysteries being revealed. Rosenblum and Kuttner, two Professors of Physics at the Univ of California, have written a book on this Enigma, and relate how when they tried to ask their superiors what is really going on at the sub-atomic level, they were told, in effect, Shut up and calculate!. The scientific community is so busy doing things that they have no time to reflect on the deeper meaning of what they are doing. After all, they reason, when we are able to invent PCs, MRIs, lasers, etc without bothering about the Enigma, why bother about philosophical questions which do not matter in the practical world where there are more important and immediate things to attend to (such as Hitlers order to Heisenberg to develop the atomic bomb, or Roosevelts dependence on Niels Bohr to beat the Germans at it!). Therefore, one major reason why the shock that Niels Bohr called a major prerequisite for understanding quantum mechanics is not being felt by scientists and engineers is our deep involvement in the rat race anyone trying to study Physics with the exclusive purpose of pursuing Truth is generally stopped in the tracks by the demands of the academic and industrial world, which insist on valuing only

practical things. In a world where making a living is so central to our existence, Truth is naturally given the go-by. But the situation is changing, for these practical gadgets of the technological and industrial world has led humanity into grave problems. The fact that modern Page | 10 development cannot take place except by polluting the earth which is our only home has come as a shock to many concerned scientists and engineers. A good number of them are now trying to revive the debate about the meaning of quantum mechanics, often at the risk of damaging their careers. These brave scientists include some famous ones too. In the earlier generation, they included Einstein and Schrdinger, and later David Bohm. More recently, John Bell one of the best-known QM physicists in the second half of the twentieth century did so with the following words:
Is it not good to know what follows from what, even if it is not necessary FAPP? Suppose that when formulation beyond FAPP is attempted, we find an unmovable finger obstinately pointing outside the subject, to the mind of the observer, to the Hindu scriptures, to God, or even only Gravitation? Would that not be very, very interesting?

Not only very interesting, but very useful even from the practical point of view. To be specific, the following are real possibilities that are likely to emerge: That the science-spirituality confluence offers a way out of one of the biggest dilemmas facing mankind today the conflicting choice between progress on the one hand and preservation of the environment on the other. That the science-spirituality confluence will usher in an era of less social conflicts and an egalitarian society by vastly narrowing the gap between the rich and the poor.

That the science-spirituality confluence will put an end to religious bigotry by showing us the scientific path to God, and making us realize that the fundamentals of every religion is the same and is the very opposite of what fundamentalists project them to be.

That

the

science-spirituality

confluence

will

give

scientists

and

technologists, who are by and large non-violent by nature, the option of working on non-violent and socially useful technologies, unlike at present when 85% of the work done by them is linked to defense (meaning Page | 11 offensive or violent) projects and technologies.

That the science-spirituality confluence will lead to a resurgence of the yin aspect in human beings, giving women a new and important role in human affairs, and enable them to become model scientists of the future.

That the science-spirituality confluence will provide an alternative to modern, Westernized development models by tapping on the cultural heritages of the East, particularly India and China.

Most important, that the science-spirituality confluence will change the nature of man ushering in a new era of less greed, less exploitation, and more love.

Among physicists, Fritjof Capra has made a unique contribution to promoting this confluence, and has dwelt on several of the possible benefits stated above. It is worth noting that what enabled Capra to stake a bold position despite being ridiculed by his professional colleagues was a shock of a different kind: the pleasant shock of revelation during a meditation session. As D.T.Suzuki has stressed, this kind of shock is the most startling event that could ever happen in the realm of human consciousnessupsetting every form of standardized experience. Capra has stated what he went through in the following words:
I was sitting by the ocean one late summer afternoon, watching the waves rolling in, and feeling the rhythm of my breathing, when I suddenly became aware of my environment as being engaged in a gigantic cosmic dance. Being a physicist, I knew that the sand, rocks, water and air around me were made of vibrating molecules and atoms, and that these consisted of particles which interacted with one another by creating and destroying other particles. I knew also that the earths atmosphere was continuously bombarded by showers of cosmic rays, particles of high energy undergoing multiple collisions as they penetrated the air. All this was familiar to me from my research in high-energy physics, but until that moment I had only experienced it through graphs, diagrams and mathematical theories. As I sat on that beach, my former experiences

came to life; I saw cascades of energy coming down from outer space, in which particles were created and destroyed in rhythmic pulses; I saw the atoms of the elements and those of my body participating in this cosmic dance of energy; I felt its rhythm and I heard its sound, and at that moment I knew that this was the Dance of Shiva, the Lord of Dancers worshipped by the Hindus.it was so overwhelming that I burst into tears Page | 12

Capras above description of the pleasant shock that he received during his meditative experience emphasizes the essential difference between a direct perception of the hidden truths behind the world we live in, and the indirect perception that modern science relies on to arrive at these truths. Modern science has so far relied exclusively on indirect modes of perception to understand that vast section of reality which we cannot see directly: including mind and life, so central to our existence The unstated assumption has been that our direct perception capabilities can never be increased to include what is currently invisible. Once it is recognized that spiritual practices do open up the possibility of enhancing direct perception capabilities, the road to a confluence of science with spirituality opens up in a big way, presenting to us possibilities undreamt of hitherto. --

Somewhere something incredible is waiting to happen, - John Wheeler, QM physicist.


the new way of seeing things will involve an imaginative leap that will astonish us. John Bell, author of famous Bells Theorem

Section II - Science and Religion: Root of the conflict


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The very mention of the possibility of a confluence of science with spirituality generally raises eyebrows. This is surprising, since both have the same goal the pursuit of truth. The basic reason for the raising of eyebrows has a lot to do with the way science originated as a kind of revolt against the stranglehold of the Church. It began over 500 years back, with the work of a cleric in the Polish church, Nicolas Copernicus. He had done intense research work in the field of astronomy, and came up with a mathematical formulation that showed the earth (as well as five other planets) to be orbiting a stationery sun in sharp contrast to the then prevailing world-view which saw the earth as stationery. But he quickly clarified that what he was describing was only a mathematical convenience, and did not describe actual motions. [ It is worth noting the interesting parallels that exist today physicists insisting their equations describing the behavior of sub-atomic particles are only there for mathematical convenience, and do not describe the particles, which do not exist at all until an observation is made!].

Why was Copernicus so shy about proclaiming what ultimately has been hailed as a great discovery? Because it contradicted the then accepted doctrine of the Church, which was being enforced through the Holy Inquisition! The Church had actually adapted the cosmology of Aristotle in order to suit its interests. Aristotle had viewed the earth as the place to which everything fell naturally, as it was the center of the universe; the only exceptions were the heavenly objects way out there in the sky, which moved around in perfect circles. The Church found this a convenient way of projecting its teachings of fallen men on earth, who could aspire to the perfections of a heaven if they followed the Churchs instructions, but who would be condemned to Hell, at the center of the earth as depicted by Dante in his Divine Comedy, if they rebelled against the Church.

Galileo and Bruno dared to do what Copernicus hesitated proclaim that the earth was indeed orbiting the sun. What impertinence, cried the Church. Wasnt it

obvious that the earth stood still? Would not a dropped stone be left behind if the
earth was moving? Would we all not be feeling a great gust of wind all the time? Page | 14 And, most important, how dare you contradict the Bible?

Galileo was given a tour of the Torture chambers used during the time of the Holy Inquisition. He recanted, and so was spared the ultimate punishments. Bruno did not, and was burnt at the stake. It is interesting and important to note that Bruno was a mystic, deeply entrenched in spirituality and the pursuit of Truth, with not a care about what happens to his person; while Galileo was a worldly person, wanting to continue his rather luxurious life-style.

Ultimately, what Copernicus discovered got accepted. The idea of controlled experiments, first enunciated by Galileo, triumphed over the opposition of the Church, and scientific beliefs began to erode religious dogma in a rapid way.

What gave science its major boost was the work of Issac Newton. He put forward the Universal Law of Motion a mathematical representation of the universe by which the position and velocity of any object in the world can be arrived at if the initial conditions (the position and velocity of each body as well as the forces acting on them) are known.

The importance of mathematics in science cannot be overstated. Without it, neither Newton nor any of the other scientists could have achieved what they did. What exactly is mathematics? It is actually just a language. In theory, there is no equation of mathematics that cannot be expressed in English, or any other human language. But in practice, it becomes very difficult to do so, for mathematics is a very concise and powerful language, being extremely precise and always

quantitative. It is thus able to express in one equation what English may take millions of sentences to do. Moreover, mathematics multiplies truth. In other words, if a mathematical

statement is made about one situation, it can apply equally to another situation Page | 15 which is far, far removed from the first one. It is this quality of mathematics that makes it such a powerful tool.

To take a simple example and see its far-reaching consequences, let us take the well-known mathematical proposition that the three angles of a triangle when added together always add up to 1800. Now, mathematically it can be shown that if this is true, then the universe in which we live is infinite. Corollary: if anyone can prove that the universe in which we live is finite (like a sphere), then the three angles of a triangle do not add up to 1800 for the two are mathematically inconsistent with each other.

Therefore, when Newton presented his equations (legend has it that they originated from his watching an apple fall to the earth!)

mm F = MA and F = G. -----d

he was saying something that applied not only to the apple and earth, but to all bodies that make up this universe. In other words, it was then possible to use his equations to make predictions about situations far removed from the apple e.g., the timing of eclipses The fact that all such predictions proved accurate is what gave Newtons Laws, and science, the power it now has over our minds.

This power actually belongs to mathematics, which has enabled scientists to evolve what is called the Scientific Method. This Method is generally represented through the following diagram:
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The Scientific Method THEORIES Imaginary world of Thoughts, Ideas, Speculation, Abstractions, Visions, Mathematics PREDICTIONS

Real world of Sensory Perceptions and Physical Objects FACTS FACTS

Underlying Principles: 1. Primacy of Physical facts 2. Principle of Objectivity 3. Principle of Rationality

As shown in the diagram, the first step in the scientific method is the accumulation of facts. This is often done through elaborate experiments in laboratories, though this is not a must any observation of any kind constitutes a scientific fact, provided that the observation is objective, i.e., independent of the observer. If the observation of a fact makes us think, it leads us to the second step in the scientific method and on to the upper portion of the diagram. If this thinking is rational, it leads to an analysis of the situation that we have observed. The Principles of Rationality (thinking logically) and Objectivity (observing without the observers prejudices) are thus the two pillars on which the Scientific Method

stands. If we apply them, we are in a position to speculate on a Law which made the fact happen. Such speculations are, however, initially designated as Hypotheses, not Laws.

There is a lot of leeway given in science as to how a hypothesis may be arrived at Page | 17 (Kekule, for instance, hypothesized his famous Benzene ring based upon a dream). The step of arriving at a hypothesis in the scientific method is often referred to as Induction. To qualify as a Law, each such Hypothesis must be subjected to the next two steps of the Scientific Method. The first of these calls upon us to figure out facts which must be true if the Hypothesis is valid preferably facts far removed from the original set of facts that led to the hypothesis. This step therefore involves making predictions. It is here that mathematics comes to the aid of science once a Law is expressed in mathematical terms, it is possible to make a large number of predictions in situations far, far removed from the initial set of facts from which the hypothesis was derived The final step involves verification often, in the world of science, this means the setting up of elaborate, carefully controlled scientific experiments in sophisticated laboratories to check out if the facts so predicted by the theory under test are correct (as for example the experiment that Eddington performed to verify Einsteins General Theory of Relativity). If it turns out that the facts predicted are indeed true, then the Hypothesis is accepted in the world of Science as a Law but again, only tentatively, for it can always be overruled if and when any new facts are discovered that contradict the hypothesis. Thus, the Scientific Method is quite harsh on all Hypotheses it demands full compliance in situations far removed from that wherein it was originally formulated, and even when that is demonstrated, the Hypothesis is given the status of a Law only temporarily, ever in danger of being overruled by fresh facts that may be discovered. So, in the Scientific Method,

facts reign supreme. The Method, scientists proudly proclaim, begins as well as ends in facts. In the diagram, therefore, the lower compartment has been called
the real world (of facts), and the upper portion imaginary and abstract, implying it exists only in our imagination and is not real. Many scientists have gone to the extent of defining science as all knowledge accumulated by the scientific method. This is a rather strange way of defining

anything, for the word that is being defined itself appears in the definition! In effect, this definition of science elevates the scientific method to a sacred position, towering above science itself. Without saying so in so many words, this definition severely limits the scope of science itself. As we shall see, it is this Page | 18 narrow definition which acts as the real impediment to a confluence of science with spirituality, and often leads to a false notion that science denies the existence of God. Newton himself believed in God, and spent more time studying alchemy and mysticism than he did physics. But it is easy to see how his model of the Universe led to a world-view in which God could be denied or, at least, sidelined. In the Newtonian scheme of things, the workings of this complex universe could, in theory at least, be reduced to that of a giant clock, in which, if all the initial conditions are given, the future is completely predictable a completely deterministic universe. Thus, God - if He does exist - takes on the role of an engineer, who set the initial conditions of this world and gave it the Universal Laws of Motion. Butand this is important- once he had created the universe with its laws and initial conditions, he had no role to play! He was a Retired Engineer!! As we all know, retirement is the stepping stone to being ignored, and that is what happened to the notion of God in modern science. The great French mathematician Laplace used Newtons equations to build a mathematical model of the solar system that dispensed with all empirical equations and astronomical tables that had been in common use till then. His huge, five-volume work was highly acclaimed, and the story goes that when he presented it to Emperor Napolean, the latter remarked, Monsieur Laplace, they tell me you have written this large book on the system of the universe, and have never even mentioned its Creator, to which Laplace replied, Sir, I had no need for that hypothesis.

Just like Laplace, many other scientists used Newtons laws and found they gave fantastically accurate predictions of the future behavior of our world. These laws first tasted their grand success in mechanics and astronomy, and then were extended to the motion of fluids, then to elastic bodies, and finally to heat and

gaseous substances. In each case, they worked with great perfection, prompting Alexander Pope to coin a new version of the Biblical version of creation: Nature and Natures laws lay hid in night; God said, Let Newton be! And all was light. The fantastic success of Newtonian physics led other disciplines to emulate the same path. The first to do so was chemistry. Soon, biology and other branches of science were doing so, and even psychology tried to re-fashion itself to represent psychical processes as quantitatively determined states of specific material particles, as Sigmund Freud put it. The disease then spread to what till then was known as the humanities, which became rechristened as social science. Karl Marx, in fact, used Newtonian concepts as the basis for his famous theories. He claimed to lay bare the economic law of motion of modern society. His dialectic materialism is based on a model similar to Newtons, in which the initial conditions that signify a feudalistic state of social order will inevitably capitalism, and capitalism will in turn inevitably give rise to give way to communism a
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perfectly deterministic view of history. It may come as a shock and disappointment to the millions who have been attracted to Marxism on account of their moral or socially sensitive conscience, but the fact remains that Marxs theory had as its foundation not morality or conscience but social determinism. So great was the all-round impact of Newtons equations that the physicist Lord Kelvin, who had himself made a great impact in the field of thermodynamics, declared in 1894:There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now. All that remains is more and more precise measurements. But two of the measurements thus made led to the apple cart being upset. Taking note of these developments, Kelvin modified his earlier remark, and in 1890 said: Physics is essentially complete. There are just two dark clouds on the horizon. These two dark clouds were (i) the Michelson-Morley experiments that attempted to measure the velocity of the earth while supposedly passing through the ether medium, and (ii) the data thrown up while examining the spectrum of colours emanating from hot bodies. The first led to the Theory of Relativity, and the

second to Quantum Mechanics. Individually as well as collectively, these two developments demolished the Newtonian world-view a most unexpected and sudden development of great significance not just to physicists but to humanity at large. Even though the world of science has refused to acknowledge it , the fact Page | 20 remains that these developments portend a confluence of science with spirituality. Once this happens, the modern way of looking at science as well as religion will undergo a sea change. At the moment, the amount of knowledge accumulated by us about the Creation using the scientific method is staggering, and has changed for ever the landscape of our view about the world and the way it functions. However, scientists have steered clear of using their method to find out anything about the Creator - often implying a denial of the existence of God. Thus, science and religion are usually viewed as mutually exclusive (often antagonistic) realms of knowledge. The typical scientist either denies the existence of God, or prefers not to think about it (treating it as a question to which no satisfactory answer can ever be found), or compartmentalizes his or her life into two the scientific method for doing work in the office, and rites/rituals/dogmas for dealing with home and family. The last option is particularly common in countries like India, leading to a schizophrenic mentality whose existence we rarely recognize. A much worse form of this schizophrenic mentality is evident in the religious bigots who are fanning fundamentalism and terrorism, for their activities and thoughts are in direct contradiction to the true fundamentals of the religion they champion. A question that often bothers any thinking individual is is there really a God? Even more important, is there any method by which one can really verify the existence of God, or is it a proposition that can only be accepted as blind faith? The only way by which we can avoid brushing this extremely important question under the carpet is to discover a way by which spiritual knowledge can be obtained through personal verification and this is what the science-spirituality confluence offers.

Once understood in its full essence, this confluence can enable those scientists who are now trapped in the schizophrenic science at work, religion at home dilemma to integrate their theories about the nature of this world with their natural inclination to worship the Creator. -Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.- Albert Einstein Recognition of the impossibility of understanding living things in terms of physics and chemistry, far from setting limits to our understanding of life, will guide it in the right direction Michael Polanyi, eminent scientist
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Section III - Theory of Relativity: The background


The first cloud that Lord Kelvin was referring to, compelling him to qualify his Page | 22 earlier confidence in the completeness of physics, was the Michelson-Morley experiment, which attempted to measure the velocity of earth in the ether medium. Michelson and Morley were in no way trying to upset the applecart of science. Quite the opposite. In fact, even as late as in 1899, Michelson seconded Kelvins earlier confidence in the following words: The more important fundamental laws and facts of physical science have all been discovered, and these are now so firmly established that the possibility of their ever being supplanted in consequence of new discoveries is exceedingly remote. Our future discoveries must be looked for in the sixth place of decimals. It is really ironical that even as he said the above words, Michelson was involved, along with Morley, in a set of experiments that would make his statement totally untrue. These experiments had to do with the notion of ether as it then existed in science. The word ether is the rough Western equivalent of what the Indian scriptures refer to as akaashic tattwa a subtle, all-pervasive substance that occupies all of space, and is in fact the source (in the yogic world-view) of the grosser (solids, liquids, fires or plasmas, and gaseous) substances How did this essentially mystic term find its way into science? The answer lies in scientists efforts to understand the nature of light. The first scientific experiments to investigate the properties of light were carried out by Newton, who advanced the corpuscular theory of light namely, that light is a stream of tiny, very tiny, particles. A few other scientists of his time, such as Huygens, disagreed with him, and advanced various theories about light being a wave. But Newtons prestige and authority had reached such heights that few dared to oppose his theory.

In fact, the author of the theory currently accepted in science, Thomas Young, had to face a great deal of ridicule when he first proposed his ideas. Not that Young had no claim to accomplishments of his own. Born in 1773, he was reading fluently when he was just two years in age, and had mastered the Bible by the time he was Page | 23 six. He became an outstanding doctor, mastered more than a dozen languages, and made important contributions towards deciphering the Egyptian hieroglyphics. In addition to all this, Young did wonderful work in the field of physics As part of that work, in 1801, he shone monochromatic light (meaning light of a single frequency) onto a screen with a single slit (a on screen S 1 as shown in the diagram below). From this slit a beam of light spread out to strike a second screen (S2) with two very narrow and parallel slits (b and c) close together. These two slits thus acted as fresh sources of light as Young wrote, as centres of divergence, from whence the light diffracted in every direction :

Young then placed another screen (F) some distance behind the two slits, and found on it a central bright band surrounded on each side by a pattern of alternating dark and bright bands. To explain these alternating bands of light and darkness, Young used the analogy of water waves. If two stones are dropped simultaneously and close together in a still lake, each stone produces waves that spread out across

the lake. As they do so, the ripples originating from one stone encounter those originating from the other. At each point where two wave troughs or two wave crests meet, they reinforce each other to form a trough or crest of greater intensity. But where a trough meets a crest, they cancel each other to leave the Page | 24 water still. Young called the former constructive interference, and the latter destructive interference. What happens when a wave meets another can be seen in the following two diagrams:

Young postulated that in the case of light too the bright bands were the result of constructive interference, and the dark bands the result of destructive

interference and hence light was a wave, not a particle as put forward by Newton Young was viciously attacked for challenging Newton. He tried to defend himself by writing a pamphlet in which he clarified that he was not against Newton, but only Page | 25 trying to advance the interests of science: Much as I venerate the name of Newton, I am not obliged to believe that he was infallible. I see, not with exultation, but with regret, that he was liable to err, and that his authority has, perhaps, even retarded the progress of science. Young managed to sell only one copy of his pamphlet! Despite his credentials and the unique experimental results he could demonstrate, nobody wanted to hear something that went against the prevailing world-view. So much for the openness scientists like to pride themselves on! As Max Planck has emphasized, scientific truths have not established themselves by convincing its opponents of its superiority, but rather, that science has progressed funeral by funeral . So it happened in the case of Youngs theory of light. It got accepted much after his death, but now his interference concept forms a very important part of modern physics. Youngs experiment was conducted in 1801, His theory had to await Heinrich Hertzs experiments, conducted in 1887, to gain acceptance. Hertzs experiments not only confirmed the wave nature of light, but also showed electricity, magnetism as well as radiant heat to be in the same category as that of light. All of them were shown to be waves that precisely followed four mathematical equations put forward in 1864 by the scientific genius James Clerk Maxwell. The work of Maxwell and Hertz not only confirmed the ideas of Young, but also those of Michael Faraday, another great contributor to science who too was rewarded with nothing but ridicule during his life-time. Before Faraday, it had been known that electrically charged bodies exert a force on each other, and a simple formula called Coulombs Law was used to calculate this force. What intrigued Faraday was how come a force is exerted through empty space?

Faraday postulated that any charge creates an electric field in the space around itself, and that it is this field which exerts a force on other charges. He represented this field by lines emanating from the positive charge and going into the negative charge. He also postulated that these fields, like waves, take time to Page | 26 propagate. Faraday was pooh-poohed by the scientific community of his time. They made use of the fact that he was the son of a blacksmith with no knowledge of mathematics to refer to his ideas of invisible fields as a mental crunch needed by the lower classes to understand the mathematical expression known as Coulombs Law! But it was mathematics of the most sophisticated kind that proved, in the end, that Faraday was right. In 1864, a half century after Faraday proposed his theory, the eminent scientist James Clark Maxwell came up with a set of four elegant equations that neatly and accurately described the waves which not only explained electrical phenomena, but also magnetism and light. But even he did not live to see his theories accepted in science. He died in 1879, at the young age of 48. It was only in 1887, when Heinrich Hertz conducted a series of experiments which proved beyond doubt that Maxwells equations gave a perfect representation of the behavior of electricity, magnetism as well as light that the term electromagnetic radiation came to be accepted in science, with light, electricity and magnetism being seen as several sides of the same coin: each one a wave that spreads over time in accordance with Maxwells equations. Just like Newtons equations explained accurately the behavior of mass bodies and enabled humanity to make accurate predictions about the behavior of matter, so did Maxwells equations enable an equivalent set of accurate predictions about light, electricity and magnetism. Gradually, the power of Maxwells Laws began to be recognized more and more in physics. Today, the most fundamental theories in physics are formulated in terms of what was once dismissed as Faradays mental crunch!! Treating light as a wave meant accepting that something was waving: that is, there is a medium through which light is being propagated, and it this medium which is waving. What is this medium? Whatever it is, it has to be present throughout the universe since we receive light even from the stars. But scientists faced a problem with this proposition if it is present everywhere, why do not other

material bodies face resistance from it? Maybe it is something very subtle, providing only negligible resistance to ordinary bodies, speculated the scientists. To give such a subtle substance a suitable name, they borrowed the term ether that had been handed down by the scriptures to describe something beyond the Page | 27 physical. However, when scientists used this term, they did not have anything nonphysical in mind, just something very subtle, through which small material bodies could move without resistance. But the earth on which we live is large enough and so must provide at least some resistance to ether, reasoned the scientists. Therefore, Michelson and Morley embarked on their famous experiment looking even for the sixth place of decimals, as Michelson put it - to measure the speed of earth in the ether medium. They adopted the same principle we can to measure the speed of a boat in water from the difference of the speed of the waves of water when the boat is moving along the direction of the waves, versus the speed when it is moving in the direction opposite to the waves. To their astonishment, all their readings, to whatever place of decimals they measured, gave a nil reading the speed of light seemed to be the same in all directions! These experimental results are often taken as establishing that ether does not exist. However, it is important to note that this applies only to the material substance that scientists had named ether on account of its being present throughout the universe in a subtle form. It does NOT disprove the existence of ether as a non-material entity as postulated in the European spiritual traditions the equivalent being akaashic tattwa in the Indian tradition. In fact, the Michelson-Morley experiments should be seen as confirming the existence of ether when viewed in the sense of akaashic tattwa, for this flows directly from the strange properties of light that have come to be accepted in physics today. As is well known, the dilemma created in the world of science by the MichelsonMorley experiments was resolved by Albert Einstein with his Theory of Relativity. In 1905, he published his first paper on it, what is now called the Special Theory of Relativity. In 1916, he extended this to include the gravitational force, and is

called the General Theory of Relativity. The first one has very little mathematics in it, and yet leads to the famous formula e=mc2. The other thing famous about it is its declaration that the speed of light (in vacuum, actually) is a constant, designated by the letter c. Einstein was just a clerk in the Patent Office at Berne Page | 28 when his paper on this subject was published, and in fact did his research work on the sly, when his supervisors were not looking. His official designation was Technical Expert Third Class. When other great scientists like Minkowski hailed his paper on the Special Theory, his office took notice and promoted him to Technical Expert Second Class. But soon the acclaim of the scientific community became so loud that Einstein became an icon, and is today regarded as the greatest brain in the history of science. What enabled him to occupy such an exalted position? Let us take a careful look at that. --

A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it Max Planck

Section IV - Theory of Relativity: Its Vision

Many textbooks state blandly that Einstein based his Theory of Relativity on the Page | 29 observation of the constancy of the speed of light made by Michelson and Morley. This may be more an attempt to bolster the facts reign supreme myth among scientists, rather than a true fact in itself. There is some doubt as to whether Einstein was even aware of the Michelson-Morley experiment when he arrived at his Theory. In any case, he was definitely against basing a theory on observable magnitudes alone: It is quite wrong to try founding a theory on observable magnitudes alone. In reality, the very opposite happens. It is the theory which decides what we can observe. The above statement rebels against everything that the Scientific Method stands for. As we have seen, the Scientific Method divides the world into two sections: the real (objective) world of facts, and the imaginary (subjective) world residing within the mind of the scientist. The essence of the scientific method is to give primacy to the former. What Einstein is saying is that this is not possible, for the facts themselves are a function of the theory already resident in the mind of the scientist. Einsteins assertion is so very different from what is generally perceived as the truth, that it is worth a careful analysis. To understand better what Einstein was getting at, let us think of the times when we have watched a cricket match on TV between India and Pakistan. When our favourite batsman, let us say Tendulkar, is involved in a controversial lbw decision, we know how we feel the facts are: of course the ball was going away from the stumps. But if we were to take a poll of the people watching that very same

telecast across the border, a near unanimous version of the facts would be: of
course his leg was plump before the wicket! In other words, our identification with our country of origin plays a role in determining what seems objective facts to us.

Similarly, when scientists are observing facts during an experiment, even though they have no desire at all to allow subjective elements to enter the picture, their mental conditioning automatically does influence their observations. Therefore, Einstein insisted that the scientists sense of identification for instance, with a Page | 30 theory - cannot but influence his or her perspective. An example from the history of 20th century physics that illustrates this point is the way Heisenberg, an otherwise fine and objective scientist, reacted to Schrodingers wave mechanics, which was put up as an alternative to his own matrix mechanics. He started off by calling it crap, and felt increasingly frustrated when many fellow-physicists preferred it to his matrix mechanics version because of its easier mathematics (now we did not any longer have to learn the strange mathematics of matrices, exulted Uhlenbeck, the discoverer of electrons so-called spin property). When Max Born, the colleague from whom Heisenberg himself had learnt the mathematics of matrices, started to use Schroedingers equation in preference to his, he called him a traitor. And when his own boss and hero Niels Bohr started developing a complimentary model wherein Heisenbergs particle perspective was not the exclusive approach but was used in a yin-yang conjunction with Schroedingers wave perspective, he burst into tears and sulked for years even though he lived in the same building as Bohr and occupied an office adjacent to Bohrs. But Heisenberg himself never felt it was his ego that was affecting his attitude to Schroedingers contribution. To him, it was merely a question of following the basic principle of science: that we should confine science to observable magnitudes alone, and Schroedingers wave packets were based on an abstract, multidimensional space that had no relationship with any observations. Therefore, he

just could not understand why others were preferring Schroedingers equation to
his approach. The notion of the ego, or sense of I-ness (my theory, my money, my children, my religion, my family, my country etc), forms an extremely important ingredient in our day-to-day functioning, and colours our vision of the world without our realizing the role it plays. That is the message Einstein was trying to get through when he insisted that our theory determines our observations.

The German philosopher Wittgenstein has called this aspect of human functioning the ego-centric predicament, and has used a beautiful analogy to explain its elusive nature: the spectacles of a highly myopic person. With the specs on, he can see everything, that is, except the specs itself. To see the specs, he has to remove Page | 31 it, but then he cant see a thing! So, the ego becomes a barrier between us and objectivity, but without our being aware of it because we can never see it (except through spiritual education) and so we end up thinking, and insisting, that we are being perfectly objective. This aspect of human functioning has not been taken into account in the Scientific Method as it stands today. That is why mystic insights are often dismissed as subjective, when in actual fact they are the height of objectivity, for they arise from a state wherein the narrow self does not enter the picture at all. To Einstein, overcoming this narrow identification with the self formed the core of being truly human : The true value of a human being is determined primarily by the measure and the sense in which he has attained liberation from the self. In fact, Einstein left behind a very beautiful definition of a human being based on the above attempt at liberation from the narrow self: A human being is part of the whole, called by us Universe, a part limited in space and time. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to widen our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is, in itself, a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security. In the above definition of a human being, Einstein is actually echoing the notion of maya as explained by mystics: that the world of sensory perceptions we experience is an optical delusion. Real science, Einstein insisted, demands rising above this illusion:

The most beautiful and most profound emotion we can experience is the sensation of the mystical. It is the sower of all true science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead. To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty which our dull faculties can Page | 32 comprehend only in their primitive forms this knowledge, this feeling is at the centre of true religiousness. Like all mystics, Einstein specified that overcoming all those desires, ambitions etc that confine us to the narrow self is a pre-requisite to the attainment of real knowledge, whether in the realm of art or of science: Where the world ceases to be the stage for personal hopes and desires, where we, as free human beings, behold it in wonder, there we enter the realm of art and science. If we trace out what we behold and experience through the language of logic, we are doing science; if we show it in forms whose inter-relationships are not accessible to our conscious thought but are intuitively recognized as meaningful, we are doing art. He termed his own encounter with the above state as a cosmic religious experience (literal meaning: that experience which united him with the entire cosmos), and attributed the vision that led him to his Theory to such an experience: The cosmic religious experience is the strongest and noblest mainspring of scientific research... During that vision, in a clarified and unified view of the universe, I saw the pattern and integration of all things. And that is when peace came, and that is when conviction came, and with these things came an almighty calm that nothing could ever shake again His son-in-law Marionogg has also described how he arrived at his Theory of Relativity in the following words:

He told me that one day he had gone to bed in a state of discouragement so profound that no argument could put it to an end. He said: When one reaches despair, nothing can help anymore, neither hours Page | 33 of work nor past success, nothing. All confidence disappears. Its over, I told myself, everything is useless. I havent obtained any results. And thats when the thing came about. With infinite precision, the universe and its secret unity of measure, structure, distance, time and space, such a monumental puzzle, was slowly reconstructed in Einsteins mind. And suddenly, as if printed by a giant printer, the immense map of the universe clearly unfolded itself in front of him in a dazzling vision. That is when he came to a sense of peace. Two important points are worth noting from Marionoggs description of how Einstein arrived at his Theory of Relativity. One: We usually imagine that all great scientists arrive at their theories from an analysis of facts revealed in experiments conducted in our physical laboratories. But Einstein did not do so and this is true of other great scientists as well. His laboratory was inside himself. As he once said, The kind of work I do can be done anywhere. Or, as he jokingly told his doctor friend, Paulette Brubacher, when she asked him where his laboratory was, Here, pointing to his breast pocket that contained his pen. The other point worth noting is that, as Einsteins state of desperation demonstrated, results of researches done within oneself are much, much harder to come by than those conducted in our physical laboratories. The reason it demands a discarding of our sense of I-ness, of all achievement orientation. See how closely Einsteins description of what he went through resembles the description given by Thomas Merton, the well-known Catholic priest, of what he experienced during his journey with the Buddhist techniques of meditation: One cannot really attain enlightenment unless pressed to the limit Forced to face and to reject his most cherished illusions, driven almost to despair, he abandons all false hopes and makes a breakthrough into a complete humility and detachment.

Humility and detachment are the stepping stones to any real mystical experience, which is what makes it so difficult to attain. Humility here should not be confused with humiliation, as Dag Hammerskjold, the former Secretary General of the United Nations (who also had very mystical leanings) has explained: Humility is just as much the opposite of self-abasement as it is of self-exaltation. To be humble is not to make comparisons. The self is nothing, yet at the same time one with everything. So, in order to move towards becoming one with the entire cosmos, one first has to rise above all comparisons, become nothing, reduce oneself to a cipher, as Mahatma Gandhi has explained in his autobiography. The result is en+light+enment, the ability to see the Universe in a different light, from a totally self-less perspective. The great historian Arnold Toynbee has explained the goal in the following words: to see the Universe as it is in the sight of God, instead of seeing it with the distorted vision of one of Gods self-centred creatures. Einstein echoed this sentiment through his famous declaration:
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I want to know how God created this world. I am not interested in this or that phenomenon, in the spectrum of this or that element. I want to know His thoughts, the rest are details.
Thus, it is perhaps en+light+enment arrived at during his cosmic religious experience, however brief or fleeting it may have been, which acted as the Vision that gave rise to Einsteins Theory of Relativity. The nature of Space and Time so special to Relativity follow directly from this insight into the nature of light. It so happened that Michelson-Morleys experimental results gave a powerful backing to his Theory, and so Einstein did not suffer the fate of Young and Faraday, but was instead hailed in his own lifetime as a great scientist. Therefore, the great scientist Hermann Minkowski could declare soon after his Theory was published:
The views of space and time I wish to lay before you have sprung from the soil of experimental physics, and therein lies their strength. They are radical. Henceforth

space by itself, and time by itself, are doomed to fade away into mere shadows, and only a kind of union of the two will preserve an independent identity.

Has this famous prediction of Minkowski, made as far back as 1908, proved true? Not really. Yes, it is true that the mathematical formalisms of Relativity Theory Page | 35 are now accepted in the world of science, and these declare that space and time are mere shadows, but have we even physicists really imbibed that in our real

life, in our day-to-day functioning? Our way of looking at the world is still very
much three-dimensional, Even if we try, we just cannot visualize reality in more than three dimensions, howsoever proficient we may be in relativity theory and its accompanying mathematics. The only exceptions are (i) those who take to the spiritual paths and make enough progress and (ii) those who have had spontaneous out-of-body experiences, such as the ones documented by doctors in the newly emerging field of Thanatology (the study of clinical death experiences). The following statement of Lama Govinda shows how a meditative experience leads to a Vision that incorporates the essence of the Theory of Relativity:
An experience of higher dimensionality is achieved by integration of experiences of different centres, and levels of consciousness. Hence the indescribability of certain experiences of meditation on the plane of three-dimensional consciousness and within a system of logic.

As Lama Govinda points out, it is almost impossible to express experiences relating to a higher dimension in a language of a lower dimension. That is why Lao Tzu began his famous Tao Te Ching with:
The Tao that can be expressed is not the real Tao If it could be told, everyone would have told his brother He who knows telleth not He who tells knoweth not.

Thus, the Vision that led to the Theory of Relativity is actually inexpressible. It has to be experienced each one for himself or herself.

The amazing quality of mathematics is that it has the ability to reach out to these higher dimensions, though only in an abstract sense. To understand how this can happen, let us take the case of 2-dimensions versus 3-dimensions, both of which are within our present power to perceive. On a 2-dimensional plane, we can join any two points A and B through a straight line, and know that this constitutes the shortest path between them:
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B A

B A

Drawing a straight line on a plane and on a sphere

Now, to understand what happens to the same thing when the number of dimensions gets extended to 3, let us take the case of the earths surface. If we stand on the earth, and join any two points A and B through a straight line, we know that even though it looks a straight line to us, it is not really so:

B A

B A

Drawing a straight line on a plane and on a sphere

What emerges is a curve a small arc in the huge sphere we call the earth. A similar difference arises when we draw a triangle on a 3-dimensional sphere:

900 900

900

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On On a sphere, triangle can even three right angles angles! a sphere, a a triangle can have have three right

In other words, if the laws of Euclidean geometry as applicable to a lower dimension do not hold true for any surface we are investigating, we know we have jumped to a higher dimension. It is this very property of mathematics which Einstein made use of to express his Vision in terms of this very powerful language. Actually, a theoretical mathematician named Georg Riemann had already come up with a non-Euclidean geometry, purely as an abstract mathematical idea, and Einstein made use of Riemanns mathematical concepts to express his Vision of a higher dimensional existence in mathematical terms. Eisntein presented his Theory of Relativity in two steps. The first, called Special Theory of Relativity, was published in 1905. It shows the connection between Space and Time, which were regarded in the Newtonian framework as totally independent of each other. Newtons concepts in this regard were accepted very easily by all as it coincided with our ordinary perception of this world - space and time being the stage on which the drama of this world takes place. By contrast, Einsteins version of the nature of space and time is very different from our common sense perspective, and hence Minkowskis prediction has not really borne fruit - in the sense that even though scientists have accepted the mathematics behind the Theory of Relativity, they have not found it possible in their every day functioning to see the Vision behind it. To imagine why this is so, let us again take an example of 2 versus 3 dimensions. Let us imagine a ring, which exists in 3 dimensions, being cut by a 2-dimensional plane :

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A living being whose existence is confined to the plane and can perceive only 2 dimensions will see the two discs X and Y as separate entities, totally unconnected. It is only a being capable of visualizing 3 dimensions which can appreciate the fact that the two are actually members of one single body, linked together by laws that are invisible at the level of 2 dimensions. Similar is the case with us - our consciousness being confined to 3 dimensions, we can easily relate to Newtons concept of Space and Time being separate and independent entities. It requires the ability to operate at the level of a higher consciousness to imbibe the link (which is different from accepting the mathematics) between Space and Time. To quote Lama Govinda again:
If we speak of the space experience in meditation, we are dealing with an entirely different dimension...In this space-experience the temporal sequence is converted into a simultaneous co-existence, the side by side existence of things....and this nagain does not remain static, but becomes a living continuum in which time and space are integrated.

This notion of time being an illusion is central to all mystical perceptions. Akal is a term often used in the Indian scriptures, meaning the Truth exists where Time does not flow. As Swami Vivekananda put it:
In the Absolute there is neither time, space , nor causation.

The Zen master Dogen conveyed the same thus:

It is believed by most that time passes; in actual fact, it stays where it is.

To Einstein, the above notion of the passing of time as an illusion was central to an understanding of his physics. As he wrote to Max Born:
For a convinced physicist, the distinction between past, present and future is an illusion, though a stubborn one. Page | 39

The difference between the fundamentals of Einsteins world-view and that of Newton is evident when we contrast Einsteins above notion of time with that of Newton:
Absolute, true, and mathematical time, of itself and by its own nature, flows uniformly, without regard to anything external.

Our common sense notion of how this universe operates coincides with Newtons, not Einsteins. That is why Einstein referred to the illusion of the flow of time as a stubborn one. So stubborn, indeed, that we treat the following serious prediction of his Theory as a joke:
There was a young lady named Bright, Who could travel faster than light. She went out one day In a sort of relative way And came back the previous night.

Anybody who can disprove the possibility of such a moving backward in time has actually disproved the Theory of Relativity. But all scientifically conducted experiments have only verified this strange prediction. For instance, accurate clocks flown round the world have been found to have recorded less time than the ones that stayed in place by precisely the same amount of time as predicted by the Theory. Thus, in principle at least, one could become younger than ones mother!

The mathematics behind the Special Theory of Relativity by which Einstein derived the above in 1905 is not too very complicated. Then, in 1916, he extended his theory to encompass gravitation until then, nobody had tried to explain the gravitation component of Newtons famous law, which assumed that this was a Page | 40 force created by God, and acted instantaneously between any two bodies, as though all bodies in our world are connected together rigidly. Einstein explained this force through the concept of gravitational fields in his General Theory of Relativity, whose mathematics is much more difficult than the Special Theorys. So, too, are the concepts, for they involve the curvature of space-time. When even the space-time connection is so difficult for us to conceptualize because of our inability to think in 4 dimensions, imagining this 4 dimensional space-time to be curved is too Herculean a task. But physicists accept the General Theory because of the power of mathematics: the non-Euclidean geometry developed by Riemann enables them to draw up models of the universe based on this Theory, and the predictions made by such models about the functioning of our universe have all ( at least as yet) been proved to be correct. The conclusions of Relativity Theory e.g., time moving backwards such that we can end up being younger than our mother - seem strange and hard to believe, but are nothing when compared to what Quantum Mechanics tells us about the nature of the world we live in not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we

can suppose, as the great scientist J.B.S.Haldane put it. In fact, the results of
Quantum Mechanics are even more stunning because they deal with the here and now of the everyday world around us, unlike Relativity Theory which involves speeds that are beyond our ken of imagination. Interestingly, Einsteins insight into the nature of light was responsible not only for the creation of the Theory of Relativity, but also for the advent of Quantum Mechanics. Let us now take a brief look at that. ---

The University was founded in the middle ages to find and to orchestrate all methods and systems of knowledge leading to union with the one God; as the UNIVERSUS, turned to one,

reveals. The students appointed the professors, those who professed a way to attain this aim, according to their interests and motivations, and not in view to obtaining academic degrees. Prof. Arnold Keyserling
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Section V - Quantum Mechanics: Its origin


The second cloud that Kelvin was referring to was the strange results thrown up by experiments conducted during studies of radiation by bodies that get heated. The results just could not be explained using Newtons laws or Maxwells equations. Eventually, as more studies were conducted and a set of brilliant scientists put their heads together, the shocking nature of the experimental results obtained had to be explained through a new Universal equation of motion, as espoused by Schroedinger. This represents a great revolution within the world of science, for Schroedingers equation is actually a replacement of Newtons laws, till then held so sacred by scientists like Kelvin. Bringing about such a major revolution was farthest from the mind of Max Planck, who started it all. He has been called a reluctant revolutionary because, by nature, he was conservative as he himself put it, peacefully inclined and avoiding all doubtful adventures. He did, however, have an abiding desire to understand nature, and therefore chose a career in Physics despite being warned by the Chairman of the Physics department that All the important discoveries have already been made. and that it is hardly worth entering physics anymore. Being a theoretical physicist with no interest in conducting experiments made it difficult for Planck to get an academic position. By sheer luck, however, once he got a position at Berlin Univ., he very soon became the Head as the two others senior to him suddenly passed away one after another(indeed, two funerals paved the way for Planck to occupy a position that enabled him to make such a great contribution to science!!). Without quite meaning to do so, Planck found himself working on the burning topic of the day amongst German physicists the problem of the blackbody radiation, the second cloud referred to by Kelvin. This problem had become central to German physicists because of its link to the design of better light bulbs. Electricity had just been introduced in a big way in the Western world, and Germany was involved in a rat race with the AngloAmericans in trying to develop the most efficient light bulbs. The world then was
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very different from what it is now. The huge continents of Asia and Africa, including the ancient civilizations of China, India and Egypt, were seen as populated by primitive natives, who were naturally inferior to the Whites. The main question to be resolved was whether, among the Whites, the Germans or the Page | 43 Anglo-Americans had claims to being the most superior. The rat race for better luminosity in light bulbs has to be viewed in this context. The Germans decided to invest a lot of their money and scientific manpower in beating the others at the development of the best bulbs. When two terminals of a battery are shorted, as we have all experienced, the wires get very heated, they may even melt, but not much light appears perhaps we see only tiny sparks. The efficiency of a light bulb calls for the opposite condition - the electricity being fed into it should produce more radiation in the vibgyor range, which is visible to human eyes, and less in the infrared region, which is heat that humans can feel but not see. The following electromagnetic spectrum gives an idea of how only a very small portion of the known frequencies of light are visible to the human eye:

In the late nineteenth century, there was intense competition as to who could produce light bulbs with the highest luminosity, so that human beings could do all activities at night unhindered by the natural darkness that crept in every evening. The study of radiation was being encouraged by governments as well private Page | 44 companies in the context of this rat race. Physicists therefore worked hard trying to link the radiation emanating at different temperatures from a heated object with the intensity of each kind of radiation. In 1896, Wilhelm Wein - who was both a theoretical physicist as well as an experimenter - came up with a formula to link the intensity of radiation with wavelength and temperature:

A very large number of experiments were conducted by many physicists to check out this formula. After a great deal of work, it was finally accepted that while Weins formula gave correct results in most aspects, it failed to do so in the infrared regions.

Max Planck then came up with an improvement over Weins formula, and this was found to account for all the experimental data without fail. However, a fundamental question was what did his formula mean? In other words, how does the radiation phenomenon get explained in terms of physics? Without such an Page | 45 explanation, Plancks equation amounted to just an ad hoc formula that did not represent an understanding of what really was going on at the physical level. At that point in time, there were essentially three accepted Laws by which physicists tried to explain the world. Newtons famous laws were used where solids, fluids or elastic bodies were involved, the assumption being that all matter is made of building blocks, particles such as atoms or molecules. Maxwells equations were the basis for explaining electricity, magnetism and light, which were seen as waves and therefore outside the purview of Newtons laws. To explain heat and gaseous substances, thermodynamics was resorted to, wherein the Law of Entropy reigned supreme. Among physicists studying thermodynamic phenomenon, there was disagreement as to whether gaseous substances were also made up of building blocks. Planck belonged to that group which did not accept the building block concept. In 1882, he wrote, Despite the great success that atomic theory has so far enjoyed, ultimately it will have to be abandoned in favour of the assumption of continuous matter. He therefore tried to use Maxwells Laws and the Law of Entropy to explain his equation, but failed. Most reluctantly, he then turned to the interpretation of thermodynamic phenomena pioneered by Ludwig Boltzmann who had accepted the atomic theory, and used statistics and probability in a big way. Planck thus became a convert to the atomic theory of matter, which he had opposed all along. But despite applying Boltzmanns techniques, Planck found it was not possible to derive his formula from the basics of physics UNLESS he fudged, i.e., put in an extraneous number arrived at by working backwards from the experimental data: wherever there was the factor f (corresponding to the frequency of the electromagnetic wave) in the formula, Planck replaced it with a factor hf and arrived at the desired results! That way, everything was perfect, except for the fact that there was no theoretical justification whatsoever for multiplying by this number h, which is usually given as 6.626x10-34 in textbooks. However, the

dimensions with which we are dealing is much better conveyed when we see h as = 0.0000000000000000000000000000000006626. This number is now viewed in physics as a fundamental constant of nature, and is famously known as Plancks constant. But when Planck himself introduced it, he was most apologetic, and Page | 46 referred to it as an act of desperation. Why was Planck so apologetic about what ultimately has been hailed as a great achievement? To understand this, let us think of a swing on which a child is enjoying himself. Ultimately, we know the swing will come to a halt. Why? Because the swing continuously gives away its energy due to the resistance of the air surrounding it. Using Newtons laws, it is possible to calculate with astonishing accuracy the amplitude of each swing and the time it will take for the swing to come to a halt. When the same rules are applied at the sub-atomic level to calculate the way radiation will result in loss of energy, the resultant curve will look like this:

What Planck was saying, in effect, was this: when energy is exchanged during a radiation process, it gets emitted and absorbed not in a continuous way, but through quantas, i.e., in multiples of the number he had used to fudge his results. The concept of a non-continuous absorption and emission of energy not only violated the then known laws of physics, but it also went contrary to common sense, for in effect it was the microscopic equivalent of saying a childs swing would slow down in spurts, thus:

No wonder few physicists accepted Plancks explanation easily, and Planck himself was almost ashamed about it, despite the fact that his formula fitted the facts perfectly. It was the work of Albert Einstein that gave substance and prestige to Plancks Page | 47 constant. Einstein arrived at the same number in a different way. He started with what is known as the Rayleigh-Jeans law to link the frequency and intensity of radiation emitted with temperature. Lord Rayleigh and James Jeans, two respected scientists, had used the laws put forward by Newton, Maxwell and Boltzmann to derive what the blackbody radiation curve should look like:

In the infrared region, their predictions tallied with actual facts, unlike Weins formula. But in the ultraviolet region, where Weins formula gave correct results,

the Raleigh-Jeans law gave not only incorrect but ridiculous predictions. It predicted the build-up of an infinite amount of energy in the ultraviolet regions whenever a body is heated! This has been referred to by physicists as the ultraviolet catastrophe, because its prediction is so obviously wrong the Page | 48 universe is certainly not bathed in UV radiation, which would make life here impossible, It was obvious that there was definitely something wrong somewhere either in the approach of Rayleigh and Jeans, or else in the laws of Newton, Maxwell and Boltzmann which formed the basis of their approach. No amount of investigations could locate any error in the Rayleigh-Jeans model or in the Boltzmann statistics they used, and nobody dared to question the laws of Newton or Maxwell. Planck had chosen to ignore the work of Rayleigh and Jeans because of his aversion to the atomic theory of matter which was their central assumption. But Einstein combined their work along with Wiens formula as well as Plancks fudge factor to come up with a simple Law that not only explained radiation, but also another phenomenon which had been puzzling physicists the photoelectric effect. The photoelectric effect was a chance discovery made by Heinrich Hertz in the course of his experiments that convinced the physics community of the wave nature of light. Hertz noticed that the spark between two metal spheres became brighter when one of them gets illuminated by ultraviolet rays. Despite months of investigation, he could offer no satisfactory explanation to what he had observed. Later. other scientists also observed the same phenomenon and realized it was not confined to ultra violet light. It was soon recognized that any illumination of the surface of a metal resulted in the emission of electrons and therefore the phenomenon came to be known as the photoelectric effect, i.e., the creation of electricity by light. Hertzs experiments had proved conclusively that light is a wave, and so scientists struggled hard to explain the photoelectric effect using this theory. They all failed. As spread out waves, light just did not possess the energy to knock out electrons from metals in the manner in which actual experimental results had demonstrated.

In 1905, in the same year that he authored the Special Theory of Relativity, Einstein used his insight into the nature of light to come up with his bold, historic concept of what later came to be called the photon a unit of light that has all the properties of a particle. Using a simple equation based on this concept he Page | 49 explained all aspects of the photoelectric effect. He also showed that the gradient of the straight line that specifies the relationship between the kinetic energy of the electrons emitted versus the frequency of the light impinging upon any metal is always h = 0.0000000000000000000000000000000006626:
Metal 1

Maximum Kinetic Energy

Metal 2

Frequency

The photoelectric effect - maximum kinetic energy of emitted electrons versus the frequency of light striking the metal surface

Thus, Einstein had bestowed the number that Planck plucked from his brain with a physical meaning. One would imagine that scientists should have welcomed this development with open arms, but the opposite happened not one of them did so. This, despite the fact that all experimental evidence went in its favour. For instance, the well-known American experimental physicist, Robert Millikan, spent 10 full years of his busy life testing the predictions of the equation Einstein had put forward in 1905. At the end of it, he had this to say:
Contrary to all my expectations, I was compelled to assert its unambiguous verification in spite of its unreasonableness, since it seems to violate everything we know about the interference of light.

For the painstaking experiments he had thus conducted, Millikan was awarded the Noble Prize in 1923, and yet, he termed Einsteins theory of the photon as a unit of light totally untenable and reckless.

Even Max Planck, whose act of desperation had been elevated into a fundamental constant of nature by Einsteins work, did not accept the concept of the photon as a unit of light. Otherwise very appreciative of Einstein, especially of his contribution to Relativity, he qualified his praise of Einstein using the following Page | 50 words:
That he might sometimes have overshot the targets in his speculations, as for example in his light-quantum hypothesis, should not be counted against him too much.

Why were physicists so averse to accepting what their own experiments were pointing towards? Reason: light (as well as all electrical and magnetic phenomena) had been proved to be a wave. True, the ones who first suggested this Young and Faraday had been subjected to intense ridicule, but now Maxwells equations substantiated by Hertzs experiments proved beyond doubt that light was indeed a wave. How could Einstein assert something to the contrary? If Einstein was right, how does one explain the interference properties of light? It is one of the ironies of history that it was while doing the very experiments to prove the wave nature of light that Hertz had chanced upon the photoelectric effect, which substantiated Einsteins formula, and eventually overturned the very theory that Hertz had proved beyond doubt. But acceptance of the light photon did not come easily. As Einsteins biographer has said:From 1905 to 1923, Einstein was a man apart in being the only one, or almost the only one, to take the light-quanta seriously. Not that Einstein dismissed the criticism of those who did not accept his theory. He willingly accepted that light did often behave as a wave. What he was trying to say was that light sometimes behaves as a particle and sometimes as a wave. As he put it:
There are therefore now two theories of light, both indispensable and without any logical connection.

To understand the nature of light, therefore, we need to rise above logic, above duality. As Einstein emphasized, there is a mystery nature is trying to convey to us, a mystery upon which if we contemplate we will realize the transcendental nature of light, and therefore of Reality.

Physicists as a group, at least in recent history, have tried to confine their investigations of Reality to that which is revealed through the physical senses, and so shy away from anything to do with the transcendental. Instead, investigations of what constitutes the fundamental building block of matter has always played a Page | 51 central role in their efforts. Around the same time that Planck and others were trying to understand the nature of radiation, a great many of his fellow-physicists were busy trying to find out the structure of the atom. A lot of experiments, some of them very costly, were being conducted with this aim, and the best brains in physics were trying hard to comprehend the results of these experiments. These experimental results were so perplexing and shocking that even these best brains were totally foxed. As Heisenberg once remarked:
I remember discussions with Bohr which went through many hours till very late at night and ended almost in despair and when at the end of the discussions I went alone for a walk in the neighbouring park I repeated to myself again and again the question: Can nature possibly be as absurd as it seemed to us in these atomic experiments?

As they struggled to make meaning of what nature was telling them, they first investigated their results in terms of the quanta of energy (Plancks act of desperation). But that did not suffice, and finally as late as 1923 - they ended up not only accepting the light quanta as introduced by Einstein, but also extended his wave-particle duality to all elements of matter, not just to light and electromagnetism. In that sense, Einstein was no longer a man apart in the physics community. And yet, in a deeper sense, he continued to be so right till the end of his life for he (along with Schroedinger) just could not accept what came to be known as the Copenhagen interpretation of the equation (first espoused by Schroedinger) that seemed to explain sub-atomic phenomena. -Though the quantum enigma has confronted physics for eight decades, it remains unresolved. It may well be that the particular expertise and talents of physicists do not uniquely qualify us for its comprehension. We physicists might therefore approach the problem with modesty though we find that hard. - Rosenblum and Kuttner

Section VI - Quantum Mechanics: The shocking revelations

Niels Bohr of Denmark played a crucial role in deciphering the nature of the atom Page | 52 as it is understood today. At the time of his birth (1885), the physics community was still convinced that the basic building block of the universe was the atom whose concept was put forward by Newton thus: God in the beginning formed matter in solid, massy, hardy, impenetrable, movable particles... as never to wear or break in pieces; no ordinary power being able to divide what God himself made one in the first creation. The above particle was called the atom, and the universe was seen as a collection of such atoms the lowest set of collections being called molecules, with each molecular structure representing an element (such as Nitrogen, Chlorine etc.), and a combination of these elements leading up to the material world that we experience every day (e.g., common salt being a combination of the nitrogen and chlorine elements). For a long time, this world-view had formed the basis of physics as well as chemistry. But by the time Niels Bohr was ready to make a career in physics (1911), several experiments had revealed that these atoms were not the solid, massy, impenetrable substances that Newton described them as, and that Man is indeed capable of dividing what God Himself had made one, contrary to what Newton had asserted. So, then, the question arose - what were these sub-atomic particles, as the new building blocks came to be christened, and how were they arranged within the atom? One of the early discoveries was that of the electron, a negatively charged subatomic particle. Later, many (but not all) of the other sub-atomic particles discovered were also found to be charged, some positively, some negatively. The excitement amongst physicists at discovering particles that could explain the behaviour of electricity and magnetism (which had till then remained outside the purview of the building block concept) was combined with frustration at understanding the set-up of these particles within the atom, for charged particles

had to be explained in a way that accounted for the lack of electrical properties in most material substances found on earth. The person who first discovered the existence of the electron, J.J.Thomson, suggested that the atom was a ball of massless, positive charge in which were Page | 53 embedded the negatively charged electrons like plums in a pudding: and hence the positive and negative charges neutralized each other except in electrically active matter. However, many experiments revealed facts which made such a model untenable. Making use of these facts, Ernst Rutherford who was heading the physics department at Manchester Univ, suggested an alternative model that of negatively charged electrons orbiting around a positively charged nucleus. However, calculations using Newtons laws and Maxwells equations showed that an orbiting electron would spiral into the nucleus in no time at all - within a thousandth of a billionth of a second! Hence, such a model would be totally unstable, and so the existence of a stable material world itself was compelling evidence against Rutherfords model. Rutherford was aware of this major deficiency in his proposed atomic model, and was happy when Niels Bohr decided to try and remove these deficiencies through a dramatically different approach. Bohr struggled for long with the complex and shocking results of many of the experiments being conducted, and came up with a model which rebelled against everything the scientific community in those days regarded as sacrosanct. For example, Bohrs model demanded that:
Electrons inside the atoms can occupy only certain given orbits, what he

called the stationery states. Therefore, unlike ordinary satellites, they cannot spiral down towards the nucleus.
Even though the electrons in these orbits are travelling at very high speeds,

they cannot radiate energy while doing so. The electrons can only be in one of a series of discrete energy states, the lowest being the ground state.
The electron can, without any external force being applied on it, jump from

one orbit to the other.

When such a magical jumping takes place, energy is emitted/absorbed in units of Plancks constant. The transition of the electron from one orbit to another occurs instantaneously. Bohrs modification of Rutherfords model overcame the instability problem, but at a huge price: the above postulations not only went against Newtons and Maxwells equations, but also against common sense. How can electrons jump from one orbit to another without cause, as if they had free will? On what basis do they select their orbits, and how and when and where to jump? And how can a jump take place instantaneously? Bohrs model also rebelled against all the physical and electromagnetic laws physicists then believed in. As one of them put it: This is all nonsense. Maxwells equations are valid under all circumstances. An electron in a circular orbit must emit radiation. And yet, in September 1913, a galaxy of eminent physicists including Thomson, Rutherford, Rayleigh and Jeans listened with rapt attention to what Bohr was presenting before them. Reason: Bohrs model was not only stable, it had made fantastically accurate predictions regarding various properties of the hydrogen atom and, even more dramatically, it had explained in great detail and with astonishing accuracy what till then physicists thought was a mystery that would take centuries to solve: the spectrum of each element. The spectrum referred to the colours of the flame when an element is vapourised. It had been discovered that the spectral lines produced by the atoms of any given element are unique: in fact, they act as a fingerprint that can be used to identify the element. The number, spacing and wavelength of each spectral line was so unique that nobody thought a uniform explanation was going to be easily possible, but that is what Bohrs model offered. Therefore, James Jeans insisted that despite Bohrs model contradicting the known laws of physics as well as of common sense, it could be justified on one ground alone: the very weighty one of success in explaining and predicting the behaviour of matter, especially the diverse spectrums of each and every element.
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It is worth noting here the philosophical difference between the approach of Einstein and most other scientists. As the following quote that we looked at earlier testifies, Einstein had set his sights at something much higher than explaining phenomena like spectroscopy:
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I want to know how God created this world. I am not interested in this or that phenomenon, in the spectrum of this or that element. I want to know His thoughts, the rest are details.
Einsteins seeming contempt for details should not be misunderstood. He definitely recognized the importance of and commended the work of his fellowscientists like Bohr. But what he emphasized was that the mystery of Nature went way beyond explaining phenomena such as spectroscopy. To wonder and to stand in awe of Nature and God was, to him, a very important part of the scientific endeavour. Unfortunately, science as taught in our schools and universities tends to do the opposite to us: as for instance when we are told that the life force in us is nothing but a collection of molecules whose physical and chemical properties enable us to live. As Einstein himself put it, this approach amounts to reproducing Beethovens Ninth Symphony in the form of an air pressure curve. To take a simple example, let us try standing in awe at the dimensions of the physical world around us. All scientific textbooks tell us of the atomic or building block nature of matter. If they wish to be quantitative, they might even add that just one gram of hydrogen contains within it 6.02x1023 atoms. But does this number, described as 10 raised to the power 23, really give us an idea of the dimensions involved? Lets take a cricket ball. It is made of atoms. What is the size of the atoms compared to the cricket ball? If we were to blow up the cricket ball to the size of the entire earth, then each atom in it would occupy the size of a small pebble!! Now, if we were to take this small pebble, the atom, and blow it up further, what would it look like? If we were to blow it up to the size of a Taj Mahal, then its nucleus would have the size of a grain of salt, and the sub-atomic particles whirling around the nucleus would be the size of dust particles! These analogies give us a

feel of the microscopic nature of the sub-atomic world. They also tell us that the solid world around us consists mostly of empty space!! Quantitatively, this will also become evident if we reflect over the fact that a proton is 1,800 times heavier than the electron, but occupies only one part in a 1,00,000 of the atom. To really stand in awe, it might help us to visualize not only how really tiny these building blocks of our universe are and how much of the solid world around us is actually empty space, but also how tiny we ourselves are when compared to the physical world around us: our size when compared to the earths, the earths size when compared to the solar system, the solar systems size when compared to the galaxies of which our earth is a part. The whole earth is not even the size of a dust particle if pictured on a huge map showing the galaxy of which it is a part, and so each one of us is an unimaginably small object in a huge creation, of which even the earth is just a speck. Even more stunning is to recognize the vast amount of movement that is constantly taking place within what seems inert matter to us. The speed of sub-atomic particles like electrons (which are constantly in rapid motion) has been estimated to be 600 miles per second - in other words, 3,600 times the highest speed of the aeroplanes in which we reach USA within a day. The speeds within the nucleus are of an even higher order: 40,000 miles per second! And all this enormous movement is happening constantly, all around us, in everything in this chalk, within this chair, on this blackboard, everywhere... Of course, we cannot see these movements, nor can we see any of the sub-atomic particles. Therefore, scientists arrive at their conclusions in the form of theories which are tested out by checking if its predictions are correct at the level of something visible to our senses. And this is how Bohrs model gained the respect it did: by correctly predicting the colours of the various flames that vapoursizing each element will result in. But there were some aspects of atomic behaviour that Bohrs model could not explain. He was then aided by another physicist named Sommerfield to modify the original model, and this gave better predictions and so it came to be rechristened the Bohr-Sommerfield model. Bohr became a hero in the world of physics when he
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could use this modified model to derive the periodic table from it, and thus explain all of chemistry from the basics of physics. (The sense of competition and one-up-man-ship is very prevalent in our academic world between persons as well as between disciplines - and quite often stands in the way of real objectivity. But it Page | 57 does confer the status of a hero to one who helps belittle the discipline that is seen as a competitor the way chemistry looked to physicists in those days.) Bohr had made use of Plancks constant in his model in the same way as Planck himself had as a convenient mathematical tool, with no physical significance. Like all other physicists, he too refused to accept Einsteins idea that light was a particle. But in 1923, two developments took place which forced other physicists to recognize the ingenuity of Einsteins idea. One was the experiments conducted by the American physicist Compton on X-rays. What Compton found was that when a beam of X-rays is fired at a variety of elements such as carbon, most pass through but a few get scattered, and that those that get scattered have a higher frequency compared to those that impinge the element in the first place. This is like shining a beam of red light at a metal surface and finding that blue light is getting radiated! So, this phenomenon could just not be explained using the wave theory of light. But when Compton used Einsteins equations, he found an exact fit. The obvious conclusion, he wrote, would be that X-rays, and so also light, consist of discrete units [later christened the photon], proceeding in definite directions [and therefore not having a wave-like behaviour], each unit possessing [exactly the same energy and momentum predicted by Einsteins equation]. It was a bolt from the blue for all physicists, who were now compelled to accept the death-knell of the wave theory of radiation, as Sommerfield put it. But some others, including Bohr, found it too bitter a pill to swallow. They were forced to do so by another development which indicated something even more bizarre: that all matter also shows wave-like properties, and hence the notion of building blocks so central to a physicists thinking came under attack! It was the physicist Prince de Broglie who first made the suggestion that elementary particles such as the electron are actually waves. As he put it, After long reflection and meditation, I suddenly had the idea, during 1923, that the

discovery made by Einstein in 1905 should be generalized by extending it to all material particles and notably to electrons. He therefore built a model of the atom treating electrons as standing waves: conceptualizing them as abstract strings tethered at both ends, much like those used in violins and guitars, so that Page | 58 only a finite number of positions (each possible wave in the string corresponding to a permissible orbit in the Bohr model) are possible. De Broglie converted his ideas into the form of a Ph.D thesis. His idea of matter as waves was greeted with scepticism (looks far-fetched to me, said his examiner) but, as luck would have it, a copy was sent to Einstein for his comments. Einsteins reaction was so exuberant (de Broglie has lifted a corner of the great veil of the Old One, wrote Einstein) that his examiners quickly and quietly revised their views, and he was granted his doctorate. But despite Einsteins endorsement, it was not an idea that had any takers in the rest of the world of physicists, until some chance experiments (accidents, actually!) at Bell Labs (then known as the Western Electric Co) showed that electrons could indeed be diffracted. Diffraction being a property of waves such as light, this confirmed dramatically what de Broglie had arrived at by meditation and long reflection. Further confirmation came from experiments conducted by the physicist George Thomson, who became a joint winner of the Nobel Prize in 1937 for discovering that the electron was a wave his father, J.J.Thomson, had been awarded the Nobel Prize in 1906 for discovering that the electron was a particle! The above irony epitomized the utter confusion which reigned in the world of physics at the advent of the year 1925 (On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, we teach that the electron is a particle, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, we teach that it is a wave, joked one Professor). Apart from Newtonian physics and Maxwells equations, regarded as the foundation on which to explain all physical phenomena, there were a host of other strange formulae and laws and models which just did not fit classical physics - Plancks radiation law, the BohrSommerfield model of the atom, Einsteins concept of the photon as a unit of light, and the de Broglie equations which indicated that matter too behaved as waves. Each of these mocked at the laws which physicists (such as Kelvin) had assumed

gave a complete picture of the functioning of the universe. Matters got really complicated when the physicists Uhlenbeck and Goudsmith came up with the concept of electron spin to explain something called the Zeeman effect, which till then had eluded the grasp of atomic physicists. The word spin here may conjure Page | 59 up images of something going round and round, but the use of that word is very misleading, for it refers to something that has no physical equivalent. It only added to the confusion about what is really going on inside the atom, prompting the Nobel Laureate Wolfgang Pauli to write in May of 1925:
Physics at the moment is again very muddled; in any case, for me it is too complicated, and I wish I were a film comedian or something of that sort and had never heard anything about physics.

What accounted for the frustration of the likes of Pauli was the absence of anything anywhere as neat as Newtons laws or Maxwells equations to explain what was going on in matter. But that same year, new developments ensured that while at the beginning of the year, there was no such model equivalent to Newtons laws to explain reality, by the end of the year, there were two of them. One was authored by Heisenberg, the other by Schroedinger. Each of them, essentially,

replaced Newtons Laws of Motion: or, put alternatively, Newtons laws became a
sub-set of these new laws, a good approximation when dealing with matter at the macro level, but totally useless when dealing with matter at the micro level. It is worth noting that from 1900 to 1925, physics was besieged with masterstrokes from a veritable galaxy of super-geniuses, with Einstein towering over them: producing one superb breakthrough after another. But after that period there has hardly been anything of that kind, anyone of that stature. It is interesting to note the parallels with the political scene in India: a galaxy of stalwarts such Rajaji, Rajendra Prasad, Nehru, Patel, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Moulana Azad, Kidwai, all towered over by Gandhi, dominated the political landscape in the earlier parts of the 20th century, after which there has been a real draught of statesmen who could command that kind of respect and prestige. It is a parallel which we will delve into later, for it has a great significance in the social aspects of the science-spirituality connection we are trying to study.

1925 saw the dramatic emergence of quantum mechanics an over-arching model meant to integrate all the mish-mash of many things that had been discovered between 1900 and 1923, and also therefore the replacement for Newtonian mechanics at the sub-atomic level. The first one to propose an overall Page | 60 mathematical model to calculate the goings-on within the atom was Werner Heisenberg. He used matrix algebra, which is non-commutative (i.e, axb does not equal bxa). It was not a mathematical formalism physicists were familiar with,even Heisenberg was new to it. But Erwin Schroedingers version of quantum mechanics used differential equations, which all physicists knew well. For this and other reasons, Schroedingers equation became the more accepted form of quantum mechanics, by which physicists could calculate the parameters they needed to explain their experimental results, and then go on to design useful things for humanity computers, mobile phones, dishwashers, lasers, nuclear bombs, and what not. However, as the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Murray GellMann put it, quantum mechanics is that mysterious, confusing discipline which none of us really understands, but which we know how to use. Richard Feynman, another Nobel Prize winning physicist whose book is the most popular textbook the world over, said much the same thing:I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics. The following poem, making use of Schroedingers first name Erwin, and psi - the Greek notation that features prominently in his version of quantum mechanics - summed up the situation: Erwin with his psi can do Calculations quite a few. But one thing has not been seen: Just what does psi really mean

To resolve this unsatisfactory state of affairs, all the great scientists who had made important contributions to quantum theory interacted with each other, and met together several times at the famous Solvay conference. But despite all their concerted efforts, no good insights into the meaning of quantum mechanics

emerged, and the mystery of the Quantum Enigma has remained a mystery. At the Solvay conference of 1927, Heisenberg stuck to the particle theory of sub-atomic particles, willing to sacrifice causality, objectivity and determinism for doing so but all physicists from Newton onwards had held these three so dear that it was Page | 61 not easy to accept such a picture. Schroedinger preferred to sacrifice the notion of a particle altogether, and go for the notion of a wave packet that sometimes gave the appearance of a particle. But for visualizing what Schrodinger had in mind, one had to imagine a space that is more than 3-dimensional, and this became an impossible task for the other physicists. De Broglie suggested a pilot wave theory where the electron exists both as a wave as well as a particle, with the waves piloting the particles from one place to another: but he did not have the clout to press home his point, which was ignored by the others The eminent physicist Max Born introduced the notion of abstract waves of probability: using well-known probability concepts but in a very different sense from the usual notion of probability as a measure of our lack of knowledge of things that are otherwise real: to use philosophical terminology, ordinary probability is epistemological, whereas the way Born used it was ontological. Einstein shook his head in disbelief at all these suggestions (except those of Schroedinger and de Broglie, which appealed to him). But Niels Bohr readily accepted Borns novel use of probability theory, and came up with his complimentary model: a refinement of Heisenbergs ideas but where a sub-atomic particle behaves either as a particle or as a wave, depending upon the experimental set-up. In the Bohr-Heisenberg-Born model, the questions asked by the experimenter decided the nature of reality! Not only that, as per this interpretation, a subatomic particle such as an electron does not exist at all until it gets observed. Even more bizarre, an observation can result in the creation of past events in other words, time can move backwards! All this is of course beyond conceptualization, just like the conclusions of the Theory of Relativity were. But as Quantum Mechanics deals not with abstract concepts like Space and Time, but with the here and now of the material world we deal with on a day-to-day basis, there was a special difficulty associated with the concepts Bohr and his colleagues were promoting: if the world of the very small is so bizarre, what about the world we experience every day which ultimately consists of accumulations of these tiny sub-

atomic particles? Bohr overcame this problem with an ingenious proposition. He made a firm distinction between micro objects (such as the electrons) where quantum rules apply, and our macro world (including the apparatus used for studying the electrons) where they dont, even though he accepted that the macro Page | 62 objects consist of micro objects, the very basis of the building block model. This Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics, as Bohrs ideas came to be known, eventually ruled the roost, for it gave scientists and technologists the freedom to go ahead and design their equipments without bothering about the meaning of the equations they were using, for they did not apply in our macro world of material reality! These days this interpretation of quantum mechanics is used synonymously with quantum mechanics itself despite the fact that two of the most prominent contributors to quantum mechanics, Schroedinger and Einstein, were very uncomfortable with it, and tried their best to overturn it during their lifetime. As the eminent physicist John Clauser has recorded, from the 1960s onwards students were often told that Einstein and Schrodeinger had become senile in their later years, and their opinions on quantum mechanics should not be trusted. Therefore, open inquiries into the wonders and peculiarities of quantum mechanics that went beyond the Copenhagen interpretation was virtually prohibited by the existence of various religious stigmas and social pressures, which, taken together, amounted to an evangelical crusade against such thinking As the Noble Laureate Murray Gell-Mann put it: Niels Bohr brainwashed a whole generation of physicists into believing that the problem had been solved, when it actually hadnt been. But now, many eminent scientists are breaking out of this brain washing. Recently, two Professor of Physics at the University of California, Rosenblum and Kuttner, have written a book titled Quantum Enigma, in which they speak of their experience as researchers in the electronics industry, as well as in academics, wherein when they tried to probe the deeper meaning behind their work and the behaviour of the particles they were investigating, they were told, in effect, to shut up and calculate! A chapter in their book titled Our Skeleton in the Closet gives an excellent account of the shocking nature of quantum experimental results, and how the world of physics has tried to brush this Enigma under the carpet.

It is in this context that we will investigate the possibility of the confluence of science with spirituality.

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Section VII: Light as the possible connection

As we have seen, both Relativity Theory and Quantum Mechanics owe their origin Page | 64 to Einsteins insight into the nature of light. When he first suggested his concept of the light photon, it was greeted with disbelief and skepticism bordering on derision and therefore, from 1905 to 1923, he was a man apart in being the only one, or almost the only one, to take the light-quantum seriously. Einstein might well have met the fate of Young or Faraday - who both died long before their ideas were considered seriously by others had it not been for the accident at Bell Labs which showed how electrons share the property of diffraction with waves, and the X-ray scattering experiments of Compton, which showed that light, under certain circumstances, changed its frequency on reflection and this could be explained only by accepting Einsteins photon hypothesis. Therefore, grudgingly and reluctantly, the scientific community changed its position, and slowly light began to be described as a stream of photons. However, even after his photon hypothesis got accepted, Einstein was unhappy about the complacency that had set in among his fellow-scientists who now felt they knew all about the behaviour of light. He insisted that Nature was trying to tell us something very profound through the behaviour of light, and added:
Every Tom, Dick and Harry thinks they know what the photon is, but they are wrong.

It is important to bear in mind that by Tom, Dick and Harry Einstein was not referring to the common man, but to the average physicist. In the world of physics today, the photon is seen as a particle, but does that not amount to brushing the mystery behind light under the carpet? The photon is a very, very special substance, if it can at all be called that. Its rest mass is actually zero meaning that if it can at all be brought into the physical world in the manner of other things we are familiar with, it will disappear! So, it is quite misleading to treat the photon as just another particle.

Another very interesting property of the photon is that that any attempt to observe it in isolation results in its annihilation and so light can never be observed at all! So, the photon is actually a smile without the cat so well described by Lewis Carroll in Alice in Wonderland. Why is it that the photon has all these special properties, so different from all other substances? Actually, light is that by which we see, but as our attempt in physics is to understand it objectively, we are ending up trying to see that by dint of which we see. It is, in a sense, the same problem that Wittgenstein was referring to the difficulty a highly myopic person finds in his attempt to see his own spectacles. We are back to the ego-centric predicament. We are also back to the problem of objectivity as defined by science today. As we have seen earlier, the Scientific Method as it exists today divides the world into the real world of the physical, and the imaginary world of the mental, and gives primacy to the former. Thus. objective observations, which are supposed to be independent of the observer, do not take into account the fact that our egocentricity (i.e., our sense of identification with a theory, a country, a religion, a chance at promotion etc) blinds us to the distortions in our view caused by the sense of I-ness, which in turn remains hidden to us as explained by Wittgenstein using his spectacles analogy. Therefore Einsteins emphasis on getting rid of this sense of I-ness: The true value of a human being is determined primarily by the measure and the sense in which he has attained liberation from the self. It is here that the link between science and spirituality begins to surface. As Einstein put it: Where the world ceases to be the stage for personal hopes and desires, where we, as free human beings, behold it in wonder, there we enter the realm of art and science. If we trace out what we behold and experience through the language of logic, we are doing science; if we show it in forms whose inter-relationships are not accessible to our conscious thought but are intuitively recognized as meaningful, we are doing art.
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What Einstein is defining as science is really so different from the way we go into science today. In fact, it is the opposite in almost every sense. We are encouraged and taught to be more ambitious, to earn more, to get faster promotions, to strive towards lucrative positions and prizes. The ego or sense of I-ness is fanned rather Page | 66 than curtailed. But Einstein insisted that the opposite approach, similar to the mystics, will lead to true science: The most beautiful and most profound emotion we can experience is the sensation of the mystical. It is the sower of all true science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead. To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their primitive forms this knowledge, this feeling is at the centre of true religiousness. The mystical approach ultimately leads to en+light+en+ment, which is an ability to see the Light. But, unlike modern scientific endeavours, it cannot and should not be achievement-oriented. In fact, if the objective becomes to see the light, one does not see it for that only inflates our I-ness (I have seen the Light, which others have not). Any insights have to come unasked for, purely through His Grace. Our effort has thus to become an end in itself, as Einstein stressed in his lovely definition of a human being: A human being is part of the whole, called by us Universe, a part limited in space and time. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to widen our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is, in itself, a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security.

It is worth noting that in the above definition, Einstein is bringing in the purpose of life in a very explicit sense. This goes contrary to the modern scientific approach, which bends over backwards in trying to avoid all references to

teleology. Alfred Whitehead, in his The Function of Reason, strange this approach is:

points out how

Scientists, animated by the purpose of proving they are purposeless, constitute an interesting subject for study. Page | 67

The inventor of the Bell helicopter, Arthur Young, states the same thing using an interesting analogy:
The notion of purpose or teleology is forbidden in science, among biologists especially, who, while they must be strongly tempted to invoke it at every turn, avoid it as a reformed alcoholic avoids a drink.

Arthur Young has made the above statement in the context of discussing a most important property of light: that it always chooses that path which takes the least amount of time. For instance, when light rays reach us from the sun, they follow not a straight path but a curved path, and that path coincides with the path that ensures least travel time for the light rays, taking into account its differing velocities in different layers of the atmosphere (in each layer, depending upon the medium, it has a fixed velocity). This is akin to one of us driving from one point in the city to another, and while doing so choosing not the shortest path but the one that takes into account the time needed to negotiate the traffic! This property of light has been known in science for a long time, and is called Fermats Principle. Describing it, Max Planck had said:
Thus, the photons which constitute a ray of light behave like intelligent human beings. Out of all possible curves they always select the one which will take them most quickly to their goal. [This principle of least action] made its discoverer Leibnitz and soon after him also his follower Maupertuis so boundlessly enthusiastic, for these scientists believed themselves to have found in it a tangible evidence for an ubiquitous higher reason ruling all nature.

The notion of Intelligence connected with light is not all that far-fetched as may seem at first sight. In fact, Plancks constant is itself indicative of this. The famous equation says:

E = h x f. Where E stands for energy, and f for frequency. f is 1 /T, where T stands for time. The dimensional analysis of the constant h leads to Energy X Time, which is nothing but work done, or action taken. So, is not the right thing to look upon Plancks constant as a quantum of action rather than as quantum of energy, as it is usually portrayed? But light has no rest mass, so it is not work as performed by material bodies, but action analogous to decision as taken by the human mind. Therefore, light that we experience here is an emanation from Light of a Higher Intelligence, which performs actions at our material level through quantas, actions analogous to decisions. These have to come in wholes, because decisions cannot be in fractions. We can decide to do something or not to do something, there is no such thing as a fractional decision. It is like Boolean algebra, where everything is represented in 1s and 0s, nothing in between. Looked at this way, the strangely spurty behaviour of the curve showing how electrons give off their energy that we studied on page 47 is no longer strange, but natural for all decisions do come in wholes. There are two other very interesting properties of light which makes its link to spirituality even more evident. One is that, as per the mathematics of The Theory of Relativity, clocks stop at the speed of light so, this corresponds to Akal, the notion of timelessness that mystics equate with God. The other is that in quantum electrodynamics - that branch of science which combines quantum mechanics with relativity (in order to account for the very high speeds of sub-atomic particles) every single sub-atomic particle is seen as having an anti-particle, except the photon, which is its own anti-particle, and every single interaction is represent able in two ways one as going forward in time, which involves the particles, and the other going backwards in time, which involves the anti-particles Thus, photons or light represent non-duality (advaita), being above the concept of time, while all other matter falls within the purview of duality(dvaita), and hence are in the grip of Kal, the flow of time.
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When viewed in this light, the famous statement God does not play dice often attributed to Einstein takes on a totally different meaning. It is not, as is commonly imagined, a refutation of all chance happenings when the universe is viewed from our level of ordinary human consciousness. It is an affirmation of Page | 69 determinism when the Universe is viewed from the level of God, or the Old One as he put it: Quantum mechanics is certainly awe-inspiring. But an inner voice tells me it is not the real thing. The theory says a lot, but does not really bring us any closer to the secret of the Old One. I, at any rate, am convinced that He does not play dice. I cannot provide logical arguments for my conviction, but can only call on my little finger as a witness, which cannot claim any authority to be respected outside my own skin. His statement God does not play dice takes on a very different meaning when viewed in the perspective of the context in which it was made above. First and foremost, he is not dismissing quantum mechanics how could he, when he himself made such an important contribution to it? He calls it awe-inspiring but points out that it nevertheless has not been able to penetrate the secret of the Old One, i.e., how and why God made the universe. His assertion of God not playing dice is based upon his inner voice, i.e., a communion with a Higher Intelligence which controls the actions of the photons in our universe. It is at that level that he asserts determinism exists. So, the essential difference between the determinism of Laplaces model using Newtonian mechanics and Einsteins assertion of God not playing dice lies in the notion of God itself. Laplace had no need for this hypothesis, whereas for Einstein, the central quest revolved around how God created this world. Modern sciences determination to avoid all references to teleology arises from its having embraced Laplace model and, later, Darwins perspective on evolution. Science has tried its best to remove from its shelves any reference to purpose. For instance, even though Snells law of refraction is taught in every elementary physics course, the derivation of Snells law from Fermats principle is generally avoided, for it brings in the distasteful notion of teleology.

But now, some scientists are waking up to the grave injustice that has been done to Fermats Principle, and also to Leibniz. A recent paper dwelling on this subject begins with:
Wide acceptance of a fraudulent version of the history of science has allowed the Page | 70 flourishing of the modern prejudice that the method of mechanism has produced scientific discovery. (We can show that it has never led to scientific discovery, but only to its suppression.) We take the case of Fermat's Principle of Least Time to help the modern reader to understand that a true universal physical principle will be an expression of intention in the universe. A close examination of the criticism to which Fermat's Principle was subjected by the Cartesians, will help the reader to see the prejudices he likely brings to the subject.

Pradeep Kuttuva, who is now involved in studying this topic in a deeper way, has pointed out to me that a whole chapter in Feynmans famous Lectures has been devoted to the Principle of Least Time. In it, Feynman seems to bypass the controversial question of teleology, and yet, he speaks of how light seems to be able to smell all possible paths before choosing the one that takes least time. Even more interesting, Pradeep has drawn my attention to another Lecture in the same book titled The Principle of Least Action, which assigns a similar property not just to light but to all of matter. Amazingly, Newtons famous law f=m.a can be

derived from this Principle of Least Action At some point in time, I hope you will
all be able to interact with Pradeep to get a deeper idea of the immense potentialities that lie hidden in the Principles of Least Time as well as of Least Action.
As it is with light and electricity, so it may be with life; the phenomena may be individuals carrying on separate existences in space and time, while in the deeper reality beyond space and time we may all be members of one body. James Jeans

We have reversed the usual classical notion that the independent elementary parts of the world are the fundamental reality Robert Oppenheimer

Section VIII Towards a Mathematics of Infinity


Einstein was not the only 20th century physicist whose insights had a mystical or spiritual flavour. Fritjof Capra has quoted extensively from Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg, Robert Oppenheimer, Fred Hoyle, James Jeans, John Wheeler etc to show how these eminent scientists understood the parallels between mystic insights and what was emerging from 20th century physics. But perhaps only two among the super-scientists who evolved Quantum Mechanics, Louis de Broglie and Erwin Schrdinger, made this connection very explicit. Schrdingers statements in this regard are particularly worth assimilating: The only possible inference from [my efforts to integrate biology with my quantum physics] is, I think, that I I in the widest meaning of the word, that is to say, every conscious mind that has ever said or felt I am the person, if any, who controls the motions of the atoms according to the Laws of Nature. Within a cultural milieu (Kultukreis) where certain conceptions (which once had or still have a wider meaning amongst other peoples) have been limited and specialized, it is daring to give to this conclusion the simple wording that it requires. In Christian terminology to say Hence I am God Almighty sounds both blasphemous and lunatic. But please disregard these connotations for the moment and consider whether the above inference is not the closest a biologist can get to proving God and immortality at one stroke. In itself, the insight is not new. The earliest records, to my knowledge, date back some 2500 years or more. From the early great Upanishads the recognition ATMAN=BRAHMAN (the personal self equals the omnipresent, all-comprehending eternal self) was in Indian thought considered, far from being blasphemous, to represent the quintessence of deepest insight into the happenings of the world. The striving of all the scholars of Vedanta was, after having learnt to pronounce with their lips, really to assimilate in their minds this grandest of all thoughts. Again, the mystics of many centuries, independently, yet in perfect harmony with each other (somewhat like the particles in an ideal gas) have described, each of them, the unique experience of his or her life in terms that can be condensed in the phrase: DEUS FACTUS SUM (I have become God).
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Allow me a few further comments. Consciousness is never experienced in the plural, only in the singular Consciousness is a singular of which the plural is unknownthere is only one thing and that, what seems to be plurality, is merely a series of different aspects of this one thing, produced by a deception (the Indian MAYA). The same illusion is produced in a gallery of mirrors, and in the same Page | 72 way Gaurishanker and Mt Everest turned out to be the same peak, seen from different valleys. As is evident in the above quote, Schrdinger was much more direct and explicit in linking science to spirituality than even Einstein. In fact, his understanding of mysticism seems deep and accurate. This has enabled him to bunch all mystics of all ages and cultures together, characterized by that wonderful experience which unites them - becoming one with God. Further, Schrdinger is wise enough not only to see that God is one irrespective of our religion or culture or race, but also that all consciousness (i.e., life-forces) is one. In other words, we are all one at the deepest level of our being. When we see each other at the ordinary level of consciousness, we see only the body, at which level we are all separate, but this is just Maya, for our present level of consciousness does not enable us to see consciousness itself (i.e., the life-force within us). Thus, we are back to Wittgensteins spectacles analogy! The link between science and spirituality that Schrdinger is pointing to has been put across beautifully by James Jeans:
As it is with light and electricity, so it may be with life; the phenomena may be individuals carrying on separate existences in space and time, while in the deeper reality beyond space and time we may all be members of one body.

Could it be that Schrodingers quantum mechanics, and the abstract multidimensional space it is based on, emanated from an insight similar to the mystics? It is well known that Schrdinger got the brainwave of his now famous equation when he was holidaying at Arosa, a resort in the Alps. He had gone there with the hope of getting just such a brainwave, and it is on record that he took with him two pearls to keep noise out of his ears. Just what kind of noise he was trying to keep out is not recorded. But, given his exposure to Vedanta of which he was an

avid student, could it be that he was trying out the same kind of mystic experience as explained in the Tao Te Ching?

Close thou the gates and doors [of your body] Soften the brilliant lights Turn noise into Silence And behold the wonder of One-ness.

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Having got his brainwave, Schrdinger expressed his insight in mathematics, unlike Lao Tsu who wrote Tao Te Ching, a great poetry to convey the same insight. Mathematics does have the ability to project the reality of multi-dimensional space in an abstract way, but the problem Schrdinger faced with his fellow-physicists was their inability to conceptualize an abstract multi-dimensional space The space that Schrodinger conceptualized was 3-dimenional only for the electron in the hydrogen atom For electrons in helium it became 6-dimensional, and as one moved from one element to the next in the periodic table, an additional three dimensions got added. This made conceptualizing Schrdingers standing wave packets an impossible task for the overwhelming majority of physicists whose consciousness levels were confined to the physical, 3-dimensional, every day, reality. Thus, while Schrdingers equation has been widely accepted in the world of science, his interpretation of what that equation stands for has been rejected in favour of the Bohr-Born-Heisenberg one, which was based on Borns introduction of an ontological probability concept. Schrdinger differed with this probabilistic interpretation of Quantum Theory even more than Einstein did, and came up with the famous Schrdingers cat thought-experiment to drive home his point. It is worth noting the important difference between Schrdingers equation and Schrdingers cat. Both bear his name, but the first was presented by him to his fellow-physicists saying, in effect, This is true it explains all the seemingly unconnected and unexplainable things revealed to physics during the various experiments dealing with sub-atomic particles, whereas the second was presented

to his fellow-physicists saying, in effect, This could not be true, it is so obviously absurd, and therefore Bohrs interpretation of my equation is incorrect. Physicists accepted Schrdingers equation and in fact preferred it over Heisenbergs because of its mathematics they were adept at solving differential Page | 74 equations, but at sea when it came to matrix mathematics. But they were not comfortable with his interpretation of his own equation because they could not visualize multi-dimensional space. Would a different kind of mathematics help make the task of this visualization somewhat easier? A new Mathematics of Infinity seems to be a promising candidate in this regard. The Hungarian mathematician Georg Cantor has already shown that there are three

levels of infinity. The number of numbers in any series (be it integers or fractions)
which carries on infinitely constitutes one level. The number of points in any line (of any length, or even a square, cube etc) represents another higher - level. The number of geometrical curves possible constitutes the third level. Therefore, mathematicians like Rudy Rucker now speak of a new category: transfinite numbers, in addition to finite (graspable by the mind), and infinite (beyond the grasp of the mind). Transfinite numbers are infinite and yet not really infinite, because there could be levels of infinity of a higher order than what seems infinity at a particular level. (It is worth noting that Georg Cantors ideas were not easily accepted, and in fact he ended up in a lunatic asylum. The only person who dealt with the mathematics of infinity before him was the famous Bruno, who linked the concept directly to his vision of God and who was of course burnt at the stake!). Could Cantors ideas be the starting point of a new Mathematics of Infinity, with his first three levels constituting the 1,2,3 of this new subject? In this context, the work of Indias mathematical prodigy, S. Ramanujam, is worth looking at. His biographer, Robert Kanigel, has used the term The Man who knew Infinity to describe him and it is a very apt description. From the point of view of the science-spirituality connection we are studying, the following aspects of his life are worth noting:

1. Ramanujams love for mathematics arose directly from his communion with

God, the Infinite Power. He not only attributed his insights to flashes of inspiration derived from the Goddess of Namagiri (Kanigel has emphasized the female nature of this deity, somewhat in line with Capras stress on the Page | 75 yin aspect resident within each one of us), but also declared An equation for me has no meaning unless it expresses a thought of God. This resonates completely with Einsteins approach: I want to know Gods thoughts.
2. Even though Ramanujams focus was God and he himself never gave any

thought to any practical application his theorems may have, the theorems have nevertheless been used extensively in areas as diverse as polymer chemistry, computer science and cancer research,
3. Like Einstein, he operated at a level where science and art merged the

realm of beauty. Just as a painter uses his brush to convey beauty, or a musician uses the acrobatics of notes to convey rhythmic patterns , so did Ramanujam but in his case it was through the acrobatics of numbers that he conveyed beauty. He epitomized what one of the contributors to quantum mechanics, Paul Dirac, had said: It is more important for an equation to have beauty than for it to fit the facts.
4. Ramanujam failed his examinations repeatedly, and had great difficulty

making both ends meet. He was finally rescued by friends who appreciated his special mathematical gifts, and they did him the favour of a job at the Madras Port Trust. His designation was Clerk Class III, Grade IV, which is the position he was occupying when the great British mathematician Hardy recognized his genius and invited him over to Cambridge. (The similarities with Einsteins rise are indeed striking.)
5. The main cause of his failure at his examinations was his aversion to

Physiology, a subject he flunked repeatedly. He just could not relate to how the subject was taught in those days: Procure a rabbit which has been recently killed, but not skinned. Fasten the rabbit on its back by its four limbs to a board, and then, with a small sharp and pointed knife and a pair of

scissors.. The text went on to explain at the upper left-hand part of the stomach is the opening into it of the esophagus, a tube which passes from the mouth down the neck, through the thorax, and piercing the diaphragm enters the stomach. But, sir, asked the young Ramanujam of his teacher, Page | 76 where is the serpent in the frog?, meaning the kundalini nadi. Quite obviously, the spiritual insights as for example the role the nadis play in keeping us alive was just too strong in Ramanujam for him to have accepted the world-view of science as it exists today, wherein everything tends to be explained in terms of molecular structures and their physical and chemical properties. No wonder he never got even 10 marks in Physiology, and without passing it he was not entitled to the degree he was seeking. He flunked as many as four times twice at the Government College in Kumbakonam, and then again twice at Pachaiyappas in Madras. Thus, it was sheer luck that his talents got to be recognized. God alone knows how many such geniuses are rotting away in our midst these days. As Robert Kanigel puts it: How many Ramanujams, his life begs to ask, dwell in Indian today, unknown and unrecognized? And how many in America and Britain, locked away in racial or economic ghettos, scarcely aware of worlds outside their own? Kanigel has explained very beautifully what such geniuses need in order to flower: As Ramachandra Rao [the District Collector of Nellore who recognized Ramanujams genius and helped him] later put it: [All Ramanujam wanted was] leisure, in other words, simple food to be provided to him without exertion on his part, and that he should be allowed to dream on The word leisure has undergone a shift since the time Ramachandra Rao used it in this context. Today, in phrases like leisure activity or leisure suit, it implies recreation or play. But the word actually goes back to the Middle English leisour, meaning freedom or opportunity. And as the Oxford English Dictionary makes clear, it is freedom not from but to do something specified or implied. Thus, E.T.Bell writes of a famous seventeenth century French mathematician, Pierre de Fermat, that he found in the Kings service plenty of leisure leisure, that is, for mathematics.

Yes, Kanigel is referring to the same Fermat whose study of light and the Principle of Least Time we have looked at earlier whose work Max Planck called tangible
evidence for an ubiquitous higher reason ruling all nature. So, what is implied here is

that the science-spirituality confluence work is best encouraged by giving leisure Page | 77 to those special persons in our midst who can dream on the way Ramanujam did. Among Ramanujams insights when he was allowed to dream on, the following are worth noting:
All reality can be explained in terms of zero and infinity. Zero represents

Absolute Reality. Infinity represents myriad manifestations of that Reality. The product x0 is not one number but all numbers, each of which

corresponds to individual acts of creation.


Each and every finite number which can be shown as a sum of three

different numbers can also be expressed as an infinite series, as per the equation x+n+a = ax+(n+a)2+xa(x+n)+(n+a)2+(x+n) to . Therefore, just like infinity holds all finite numbers within itself, similarly each finite number holds infinity in the palm of its hand (as William Blake had put it), a kind of mathematical affirmation of the mystics contention that the entire macrocosm is contained in each microcosm. Now, let us consider the following two infinite series which are rather wellknown in the world of mathematics:

Sin = 3 + 5 + 7 + .to 3! 5! 7! e= 1 + 1 1! + 1 + 1 + .to 2! 3!

The first one expresses sin as an infinite series in terms of , provided is expressed in radians. Sin is actually a very useful tool for design engineers,

navigators etc., and is used extensively in the application sciences. It is generally seen as a simple ratio: the division of the length of one side of a triangle by the other side. Very few picture it as an infinite series. But picturing it as an infinite series gives us a different perspective about reality. Page | 78 For instance, it is well known that for = 300, sin = 0.5. The same result can be obtained if we plug in the value of in the above series. Mathematically, the two are equivalent. But conceptually, the two are different. Doing it the way we usually do, as a ratio of two sides of a triangle, is simpler and faster, but treating it as an infinite series enables us to realize that the finite holds within it the infinite. Once we start thinking that way, we will find it easier to recognize the divinity resident within each one of us: that we are finite beings in the sense that we live for a finite period of time, the body occupies a finite amount of space, and yet, what seems like finite to us does hide within it the infinite, the divine. This method of visualizing the infinite within each finite may help us conceptualize Schrdingers equation in the way Schrdinger wanted us to. Now, let us look at the second infinite series. The term e used therein is well known in mathematics. It is called an irrational number, because no matter how many decimal places we go upto, it can never be expressed fully. Mathematicians classify numbers in various categories. The normal arithmetical numbers 1,2,3, etc. that we are all familiar with are called integers. Among them, those that cannot be derived by multiplying any two previous numbers are called prime numbers (5,7,11 etc). Then there are the fractional numbers, which can be expressed using decimals: e.g., = 0.5. Among these fractions, a few are those whose expression in decimal form goes on ad infinitum: e.g. 22/7 = 3.142They are the ones referred to as irrational numbers. When we so refer to them, the conceptual framework that forms in our minds gives a status to rationality which puts the spiritual realms outside our reach, being dismissed as irrational. But there is another way of referring to them, which will enable us to recognize the reality of the spiritual dimensions.

22/7 stands for , which is used extensively in understanding the relationship between the circumference and radius of a circle. Some mathematicians have referred to and e as transcendental numbers, which is very enlightening nomenclature. On the one hand, it denotes that which is beyond the physical Page | 79 senses, and on the other hand it refers to the mathematical step which connects a lower dimension to a higher one. Thus, these can be the conceptual building blocks to understand the multi-dimensional standing waves central to Schroedingers interpretation of his own equation. Even more interesting is another category of numbers mathematicians use extensively these days - -1. It is called an imaginary number, and is denoted by i . If we try to think of how one can find a root of a negative number, we realize that this is beyond our imagination just like infinity. And yet, these imaginary numbers play a very vital role in modern physics, especially Quantum Mechanics. But if Quantum Mechanics is real, should we not be calling the imaginary numbers the real numbers belonging to a level of consciousness that is the Reality and of which our physical world is a reflection, so that our real numbers become reflections (x0, as Ramanujam put it) of this higher reality? Maybe a table along the following lines could emerge:

Vision Gross 1st level of subtlety 2nd level of subtlety

Degrees Physi of cs freedom 3 (of Matte ordinary r space) Subatomi 4 (space + c time) Photo n >= 5

Mathemetical Notation rational numbers irrational numbers Imaginary dimension

Cantors Level of Infinity 1 2 3

Max Plancks quote that we looked at in the beginning (see page 4) becomes alive once we look at reality in the above perspective But it also implies the need to modify the scientific method to something like the following:
The Scientific Method Modified Scientific Method THEORIES Imaginary world of Thoughts, Ideas, Speculation, Abstractions, Real inner worlds Visions, Mathematics

Page | 80

VISION PREDICTIONS

Real world of Sensory Reflected world of Perceptions and Physical Sensory Perceptions Objects

and Physical Objects

FACTS

FACTS BEAUTY

Underlying Principles: Underlying Principles: 1. Primacy of Physical facts 1. All life (consciousness) is one 2. Principle of Objectivity 2. This Reality gets revealed during deep meditative experiences 3. Principle of Rationality 3. The physical world is a (distorted) reflection of the above Reality

That is, the physical world is seen as a reflection of the inner worlds, which is the real thing. What will then have to be discarded is our insistence on predictability as the criterion for accepting a theory as correct. The preferred criterion would be beauty, not predictability. To use Paul Diracs words, this approach will value beauty in our mathematical equations, even if they do not fit the facts.

Why is so much importance given to predictability in the modern scientific


method? It has to do with what Descartes specified as the scientists objective: To become Master and possessor of Nature. As long as this is the objective, no confluence of science with spirituality is possible. Conquering nature does demand that we know how the enemy will behave and hence the need for accurate predictions. But if we are to treat nature as a friend, a completely different approach is called for. Mahatma Gandhi championed this

approach, and it is interesting to see how his ideas parallel those emerging from 20th century physics.

Page | 81

Section IX - Einstein and Gandhi: The Men Apart


From 1905 to 1923, Einstein was a man apart in the world of physics on account Page | 82 of his lone voice in support of the concept of light-quanta, which was dismissed with disbelief and skepticism bordering on derision by all others. It was only Comptons experiments on X-ray scattering, coupled with an accident at Bell labs, which gave physicists no choice but to accept what he had been insisting upon. This, and the phenomenal success of his Theory of Relativity, gave him a standing in the world of science unmatched since Newton. And yet, in a deep sense, Einstein remained a man apart even after that, right till his death in 1955. Why was that the case? It centred on his rejection of Bohrs Copenhagen interpretation of Schrdingers equation, which all other physicists (barring Schrdinger himself, and to some extent de Broglie) had accepted. Einstein entered into a very long and famous debate with Bohr on this subject. As C.P.Snow said: No more profound intellectual debate has ever been conducted But, he added, Its a pity that the debate, because of its nature, cant be common currency. He was referring, of course, to the complex technical issues involved in the physics behind Quantum Mechanics. However, as the physicists Rosenblum and Kuttner have pointed out, the essence of the Quantum Enigma - the centerpiece of the debate between Einstein and Bohr- is not beyond the reach of the common man. In fact, they stress that the eventual resolution of this enigma may come from non-physicists:
The quantum enigma has challenged physicists for eight decades. Is it possible that crucial clues lie outside the expertise of physicists? Remarkably, the enigma can be presented essentially full-blown without much physics background. Might someone unencumbered by years of training in the use of quantum theory have a new insight? After all, it was a child who pointed out that the emperor had no clothes.

One interesting way for non-physicists to start understanding the essence of the Einstein-Bohr debate, and hence the Quantum Enigma, may be to compare the parallels with a debate that took place in an entirely different sphere: the debate

between Gandhi and Nehru over what progress really means. Gandhi, too, was a man apart in the deepest sense of the term. Like Einstein, he towered over his colleagues, who had great regard and respect for him, and yet, would just not accept his prescription for India after independence as spelt out in his seminal Page | 83 book Hind Swaraj. Nehru, who like Bohr was the leader of the other side, called the essence of Hind Swaraj preposterous, and had a lengthy correspondence with his mentor on the subject. The essence of both these debates revolves around the important question of purpose: in the case of the Einstein-Bohr debate, it was the purpose of science, and in the case of the Gandhi-Nehru debate, it was the purpose of development. Common to both is the extremely important question: what is the purpose of living here on earth? As Arthur Young has stressed, scientists have bent over backwards to make sure that science does not touch upon this subject, even by mistake ( a la Fermats Principle). E.F.Schumacher, the well-known author of Small Is Beautiful, has dwelt on the importance of this question in his wonderful book A Guide for the Perplexed. In it, he has pointed out that when science abandons the notion of teleology, it does not mean that human beings are left purposeless. It means that we are exposed to only the material side of life, and hence end up as helpless actors in a mindless rat race of material aggrandization: accumulating goods and bank balances and assuming that this is all what life is about. Schumacher begins the book with a beautiful analogy:
On a visit to Leningrad in Aug 1968, I consulted a map to find out where I was, but I could not make it out. I could see several enormous churches, yet there was no trace of them on the map. When finally my interpreter came to help me, he said: We dont show churches on our maps. Contradicting him, I pointed to one that was very clearly marked. This is a museum, he said, not what we call a living church. It is only the living churches we dont show. It then occurred to me that this was not the first time I had been given a map that failed to show many of the things I could see right in front of my eyes. All through school and university I had been given maps of life and knowledge on which there was hardly a trace of many of the things that I most cared about and that seemed to me

to be of greatest possible importance for the conduct of my life. I remembered that for many years my perplexity was complete; and no interpreter came along to help me. It remained complete until I ceased to suspect the sanity of my perceptions and began, instead, to suspect the soundness of the maps. The maps I was given advised me that virtually all my ancestors, until a quite recent generation, had been rather pathetic illusionists who conducted their lives on the basis of irrational beliefs and absurd superstitions. Their preoccupation with religion was just one of their many signs of underdevelopment, not surprising with people who had not yet come of age. There was, of course, some interest in religion today [provided it is treated as a museum piece the living part needs to be excluded from our maps]. It was still permissible, on suitable occasions, to refer to God the Creator, although every educated person knew that there was not really a God, certainly not one capable of creating anything, and that the things around us had come into existence by a process of mindless evolution, that is by chance and natural selection The maps of real knowledge, designed for real life, did not show anything except things that allegedly could be proved to exist. The first principle of the philosophical map-makers seemed to be If in doubt, leave it out, or put it into a museum. It occurred to me, however, that the question of what constitutes proof was a very subtle and difficult one. Would it not be wiser to turn the principle into its opposite and say If in doubt, show it prominently? After all, matters that are beyond doubt are, in a sense, dead; they do not constitute a challenge for the living. Page | 84

Schumacher goes on to capture the essence of what constitutes true religion (as opposed to the museum pieces), terming it inner work (the extremely difficult but important task of purging our mind of impurities):
Inner work, or yoga in its many forms, is not a peculiarity of the East, but the taproot, as it were, of all authentic religions. It has been called the applied psychology of religion, and it must be said that religion without applied psychology is completely worthless. Simply to believe a religion to be true, and to give intellectual assent to its creed and dogmatic ideology, and not to know it to be true through having tested it by the scientific methods of yoga, results in the blind leading the blind.

The above statement gives us a very good insight into the essence of the misunderstanding, or miscommunication, between Gandhi and Nehru on Hind Swaraj. When Gandhi talked of passivity about worldly pursuits but activity about

godly pursuits, he was meaning replacing money-making as the goal of life by inner work, and not escaping from worldly duties and obligations into mindless rituals and ceremonies, as Nehru seems to have assumed He tried to clarify that he was not referring to religion in the form of rites or rituals, and so spoke of the religion Page | 85 that underlies all religions, but Nehru failed to understand his deeper meaning. To Nehru, as to most people today, religion stands for creed and dogmatic ideology, and it has never struck us that real religion is inner work applied psychology, which allows us to test out our hypothesis using the scientific techniques of yoga. In the absence of these tests, religion remains consigned to rituals and superstitions, and eventually to a rise of fundamentalism which has nothing whatsoever in common with the fundamentals of the religion the fundamentalist seeks to champion. Therefore, Nehru was naturally wary of it, and crossed intellectual swords with his mentor and hero on this question. The Einstein-Bohr debate is not that easy to summarize, for it has to do with physics. But at its root, the question asked is similar should the purpose of physics be to find out what nature is, or only how we can make use of nature for our development? The spiritual aspect does not come into the picture explicitly, but is evident when Bohr admonishes Einstein for saying God does not play dice by replying do not tell God how to run the universe. Like Nehru, Bohr fails to understand the deeper aspect of what Einstein was getting at that he had glimpsed the Higher Intelligence, and so knew that the probabilistic interpretation which Born gave to Schrdingers equation did not reflect reality. Einsteins deep discomfort with the Copenhagen interpretation was based on an inner voice a direct communion with the transcendental realms which told him that it is not the real thing. But he was unable to muster any witness for his assertion (except for his little finger, a phrase also used by Gandhi to denote the same message!), because of the limitation of logic, which operates at the level of duality, unlike reality which is above duality:
Pure logical thinking cannot yield us any knowledge of the empirical world; all knowledge of reality starts from experience and ends in it. Propositions arrived at by purely logical means are completely empty of reality.

What applies to jokes, I suppose, also applies to pictures and to plays. I think they should not smell of a logical scheme, but of a delicious fragment of life, scintillating with various colours according to the position of the beholder. If one wants to get away from this vagueness one must take up mathematics. And even then one reaches ones aim only by becoming completely insubstantial under the dissecting knife of clarity. Living matter and clarity are opposites they run away from each other. We are now experiencing this rather tragically in physics. Page | 86

The parallels between the Gandhi-Nehru and Einstein Bohr debates are interesting not only from the point of view of their content, but also from the striking similarities between Einstein and Gandhis personalities. It is also worth noting how their great contributions in the first half of the 20th century stand in sharp contrast to a near-total void of such eminent personalities in their respective fields (scientists of eminence, and statesmen of eminence) in the second half of the 20th century. The following tables give an idea of these parallels: Parallels between the Einstein-Bohr and Gandhi-Nehru debates
1. Both the debates were conducted in a spirit of bonhomie, love and respect.

Despite their differences, Nehru regarded Gandhi as his leader, and Bohr looked upon Einstein as the undisputed leader and standard bearer of the physics community. Their intellectual sparring was of the most intense kind: Bohr on several occasions spent days and sleepless nights preparing for the battle, and Einstein did not hesitate to use the word stupid in denouncing Bohrs ideas. Yet, all this was conducted without bitterness or rancor, in an ever-friendly and humane - often humourous - way. When Gandhi was killed, Nehrus famous the light has gone out of our lives speech is indicative of how their differences did not stand in the way of a spiritual bonding.
2. The basic point of contention in both cases was the direction in which human

beings should evolve. In the Nehru-Gandhi debate, it was about the evolution of civilization in the largest sense of the term. Nehru saw nothing wrong in the existing index of growth GNP -as the measure of how well a society has developed. Gandhi felt GNP was too materialistic an index, and called for sweeping changes to usher in a new, post-modern, alternative civilization for

replace the existing one. The Bohr-Einstein debate was also about the evolution of civilization but was confined to the role of science in setting the direction. Bohr felt there was nothing wrong in the existing limitation physicists had imposed on themselves to confine their discipline to Page | 87 predicting the results of experiments, without getting involved in the deeper philosophical question of what nature is. Einstein felt this limitation was uncalled for, and defeated the very purpose of science, which was to find out the Truth, a pursuit central to Gandhis life and thinking.
3. The essence of the debate, in both cases, was whether the spiritual side of

man should be taken into account in an explicit way when dealing with the physical. Gandhi was very open about it, declaring that without this, mans mission on earth could not be accomplished Nehru found this exasperating. Einstein, as he was dealing with physics and mathematics, did not bring in the spiritual angle openly, but did make references to God and His ways, much to Bohrs exasperation.
4. Nehru felt that Gandhis ideas were a throwback to medieval times, whereas

actually Gandhi was pointing to a post-modern era, wherein the definition of civilization would undergo a revolutionary change. Bohr felt Einstein was trying to bring back Newtonian determinism, whereas actually Einsteins world-view was far from Newtonian, it was a call for an Advaitic fusion of the wave-particle duality to arrive at a new unified law.
5. The advaitic world-view was central to both debates. Bohr accepted that

sub-atomic particles could behave both as particles as well as waves, but saw nothing wrong in treating them as complimentary, in a sort of yin-yang way. Einstein insisted that the Reality is beyond these opposites in a deep way, and that we are missing the point by treating them as complimentary. (A good analogy to understand this from our point of view would be the concept of avatars if both Kabir and Meerabai are treated as God in human form, Bohrs approach would be similar to saying sometimes God takes on the role of a male person, on another occasion a female person, whereas Einstein would say, no, no, God is neither male nor female, He is a Power that

manifests as a male sometime, as a female sometime, but is actually above the duality of sex you have to rise above duality to know what He is). Similarly, Nehru did not deny God or the spiritual side of man, but did not want to confuse issues by invoking this aspect in dealing with the material Page | 88 side, whereas Gandhi felt the two could not be compartmentalized.
6. Nehru could not understand the goal of the State as based on a definition of

progress wherein the spiritual element was brought into the picture, and so found Gandhis emphasis on the spiritual over the material hard to accept, Bohr saw the goal of physics as the explanation of experiments conducted in the laboratory and not to be extended to philosophical questions about man and nature, whereas Einstein gave a much deeper perspective to this goal: understanding what nature is.
7. Even though Nehru rejected Gandhis injection of the spiritual element into

the affairs of the state, his perspective was not entirely materialistic either. Moral values played an important role in his thinking, and therefore socialist ideas appealed to him but he could not grasp Gandhis contention that pursuit of morality without spirituality is an impractical proposition. Similarly, Bohr accepted the complimentary nature of the wave and particle notions of matter, and recognized the spiritual angle present in this acceptance he even chose the yin-yang symbol as his coat of arms. He recognized that there are two kinds of truths, small truths and great truths the opposite of a small truth is a falsehood but the opposite of a great truth is another great truth. But he would not take this far enough to accept Einsteins ideas on what nature is: with the central role of nonduality where opposites unite at a higher level of reality.
8. The above got reflected in their respective life-styles too. Nehru was a

socialist who wanted a cap on wealth and spending, but could not help leading a fairly lavish life-style himself, which he justified as befitting a head of government. Gandhi, as is well known, not only glorified the simple living, high thinking ideas of the rishis and munis, but strictly adhered to one himself. Nehru was very uncomfortable with village life and saw no reason to glorify

it, whereas Gandhi was very critical of urban growth and spoke of the villages of India as the cradle of civilization. Similarly, Einstein too referred to the idiotic existence one leads in the city, and did so only to cope with the annoying business of starving. But Bohr, though simple by nature, Page | 89 enjoyed the life of luxury that fame as a scientist had brought him.
9. Both Einstein and Gandhi often invoked their inner voice and little finger

to justify what to Bohr and Nehru respectively seemed unjustified, even irrational. But Einstein and Gandhi stuck steadfastly to their positions despite intense opposition, obviously because their inner voice was a link to a reality firmer and greater than logic and material existence.

Other similarities between Einstein and Gandhi 1. Philosophically and emotionally, Einstein felt very close to Gandhi, whose picture was one of three that adorned his home-cum-office at Princeton (the other two were of Faraday and Maxwell).
2. In their younger days, both Einstein and Gandhi were seen as failures.

Gandhi had difficulty even standing and speaking to the judge in his initial days as a lawyer, and Einstein did so poorly at studies that his teacher told his father it did not matter what subject the boy chose for further studies as nothing would ever become of him. He passed his intermediate exams with difficulty, and he was repeatedly rejected even for a tutors post, and so finally had to settle as a Technical Expert, Third Class in the patent office where his job was, as he put it, that of a federal ink pisser. It was in this position that he used his spare time to come up with (i) the Theory of Relativity, (ii) his concept of the light quanta and the notion of Plancks number as a fundamental constant of nature, and (iii) the solution to the long-standing problem of what was called Brownian motion in the world of physics. All three papers appeared in one single year (1905) and were so greatly appreciated by leading physicists like Planck that his office promoted him to Technical Expert, Second Class.

3. Both Gandhi and Einstein were deeply religious not in the denominational

sense of the term, but in the mystic sense of the term, that is, seeking a unity with the Old One, as Einstein put it. Gandhi has made very clear in the Introduction to his Autobiography that communion with God was the aim Page | 90 of everything he was doing, including activities in the political arena. Einstein, being a physicist, was not so explicit, but referred to his cosmic religious experience as the strongest and noblest mainspring of scientific research.
4. Despite their religiousity being fundamental to their existence, both Gandhi

and Einstein were the opposite of religious fundamentalists the way that term is understood these days. Gandhi warned his co-Hindus they would be jettisoning the essence of their religion if they became intolerant to other faiths. Einstein, while putting up a heroic resistance to Nazi persecution (he was directly targeted by Hitler), told his fellow-Jews:the existence and destiny of our people depends less on external factors than on us remaining faithful to the moral traditions which have enabled us to survive for thousands of years despite the fierce storms that have broken over our heads. He then added: sacrifice becomes grace. To both Gandhi and Einstein, non-violence, tolerance, sacrifice, morality and love were essential pre-requisites of any attempt to commune with the Old One.
5. The other essential pre-requisite was humility, which both tried to cultivate

assiduously. To Gandhi, becoming a cipher was his goal in life, and often got reflected in his actions. When he single-handedly prevented Calcutta from erupting into Punjab-style rioting in August of 1947 and Rajaji hailed him as a saviour and one capable of performing miracles, he quickly clarified that it was God who was doing everything. Similarly, when Max Born wrote to Einstein about another physicist who had tried to install someone other than Einstein as the architect of the Theory of Relativity, Einstein responded thus: It matters little to me who authored the Theory of Relativity. Suffice to me that it exists. And when he became a hero and leader of the community of physicists who had initially rejected his ideas, he said:

Perhaps as a punishment for my contempt of authority, fate has converted me into an authority
6. Both were detached, despite being in the midst of others, and constantly

helping them in many ways. Gandhi insisted that he must remain detached Page | 91 from the millions of people he interacted with on a daily basis, as this detachment was necessary if one were to truly help others selflessly. Thus, when Nehru and Patel rejected his advice of resisting Partition and felt he had deteriorated with age, he on the one hand recorded his feelings for Badshah Khan thus : I cannot bear to see Badshah Khans grief. My inner agony wrings my heart. But, despite that, he added: I go about my business unmoved.. I am experiencing an ineffable inner joy and freshness of mind. Similarly, Max Born said of Einstein: For all his kindness, sociability and love of humanity, he was nevertheless totally detached from his environment and the human beings included in it. Einstein himself has put it this way: I am truly a lone traveler and have never belonged to my country, my home, my friends or even my immediate family with my whole heart.
7. Even though both were very often labeled impractical, especially by their

opponents, they actually had very practical minds. Gandhis talents in making practical things and doing research while doing so was legendary he was highly respected for his efforts in many fields as diverse as natural foods and diet, lavatories, footwear, first aid, and home construction. He was also an astute judge of people, an accomplished negotiator, superb fund raiser, fast walker, great writer, and could read the minds of others very easily. He managed to attract the best of talents at the smallest of prices, and to manage people and organizations superbly. Einsteins practical talents were not so multi-faceted, but he did make contributions with tremendous practical value as for example his discovery of stimulated emission which forms the basis of all modern laser equipment (laser is an acronym for light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation).
8. Both were not afraid of death. Gandhi, in fact, made this a fundamental

criterion for a Satyagrahi: I can teach non-violence to one who is ready to die. One who is afraid of death, I cannot. In his eventful life, he repeatedly

faced physical assaults of a murderous nature, but never allowed this to deflect him from his ideal of non-violence and love that encompasses all, attacker included. Einstein, during a serious illness, was asked if he was afraid of death, and replied:I feel such a sense of solidarity with all living Page | 92 things that it does not matter where the individual begins and ends. There is nothing in the world I cannot dispense with at a moments notice. And finally, when in 1955 he was admitted to a hospital, he refused surgery, saying: It is tasteless to prolong life artificially. I have done my share, it is time to go.
9. Interestingly, even their negative side has parallels. Both were, at least on

occasions, rather unfair to their wives. Gandhis ill-treatment of Kasturba is well recorded, though it is also true that he regretted his actions later. In Einsteins case, he once demanded of his wife Mileva the following: 1. That my clothes and laundry be kept in good order and repair. 2. That I receive my three meals regularly in my room. 3 that my bedroom and office are always kept neat, in particular, that my desk is available to me alone. Further, he insisted she renounce all personal relations, and refrain from criticizing him either in word or deed in front of my children. To top it all, he demanded: 1 You are neither to expect intimacy from me nor reproach me in any way. 2. You must desist immediately from addressing me if I request it. 3. You must leave my bedroom or office immediately without protest if I so request. No wonder poor Mileva could not live up to all these demands, and their marriage did not last, unlike Kasturbas wherein both sides made valuable sacrifices and adjustments, and thereby became an ideal couple.

Chronological parallels
1. Second half of 19th century: both Gandhi and Einstein are born, Gandhi in

1869, Einstein in 1879. Both lead ordinary lives as boys and young men, with no hint of their glorious future.1900 to 1910: Both rise from obscurity to fame. 1905 sees the publication of three papers by Einstein, which are his

lifes outstanding contributions. 1909 sees the publication of Hind Swaraj, which is Gandhis seminal book that spells out his vision for India as well as for humanity.
2. 1910 to 1925: Gandhi and Einstein become well-known, but not all that well Page | 93

accepted. Einsteins idea of light quanta meets fierce resistance, but finally his position is vindicated through the undisputable evidence of experiments. Gandhi also faces opposition to his prescription of non-violence, but the success of his methods in rousing Indias masses makes other politicians slowly veer round to his position.
3. 1925 to 1950: Einstein towers over a galaxy of geniuses in the physics

community including Bohr, Schrdinger, Heisenberg, Born, de Broglie, Wolfgang Pauli etc. They all accept him as their leader and standard bearer, and yet, his views on the nature of reality especially his dissent with respect to the Copenhagen interpretation of Quantum Mechanics - is brushed aside by all (except Schrdinger). Similarly, Gandhi towers over a galaxy of talented, selfless statesmen including Nehru, Rajaji, Moulana Azad, Kidwai, Rajendra Prasad, Badshah Khan, Vinoba etc. They all accept him as their leader, and yet, refuse to abide by his advice on Partition (except Badshah Khan) and his recommendations about post-independent India as spelt out in Hind Swaraj (except Vinoba).
4. Third quarter of 20th century: Gandhi leaves this world in 1948, Einstein

follows in 1955. Gandhi continues to be venerated in India, but none of its leaders wants to follow what he said or stood for. Einstein is also venerated in the world of science, but his views on the important subject of quantum mechanics is dismissed as the senile ranting of an old man.
5. Fourth quarter of 20th century: As the world discovers that the path of

development it has chosen is not sustainable, interest in what Gandhi said gets revived. Schumachers accurate prediction of the oil crisis and his consequent espousal of Buddhist economics become a best seller, and begins to draw attention to what Gandhi had had been warning. Similarly, The Tao of Physics by Fritjof Capra becomes a best seller, generating

interest in the parallels between the world-views of 20th century physics and mysticism.
6. 2000 to 2010: As the reality and magnitude of the environment crisis facing

mankind begins to dawn on everybody, there is a growing interest in Page | 94 alternative ideas. Gandhis emphasis on frugality, simplicity and spirituality slowly starts seeping into the mind-set of those looking for a way out of the impasse; recycling begins to be emphasized; plastics undergoes a metamorphosis from a magic invention to a dirty thing; vegetarianism begins to spread in a big way; yoga and meditation attracts millions all over the world. Simultaneously, there is a growing revival of interest in the unsolved quantum enigma among physicists and non-physicists alike, as evidenced by the books Qunatum Enigma by Rosenblum and Kuttner, and Quantum by Manjit Kumar.
7. 1950 to 2010 Vs 1900 to 1950: In the first half of the 20th century, there

was an unbelievable pool of specially talented people available to physics: such great was their genius that most of them got a Nobel Prize while still in their 20s and 30s! Similarly, the same period saw a great set of men and women become social and public workers in India. Eisntein was the undisputed leader of the first set, Gandhi of the second. But after their demise, all through these 60 years, there has been a real paucity of anyone to match those giants. Is this vacuum the proverbial lull before the storm? If so, could the same storm encompass both worlds, of science and society? Having looked at these interesting parallels, let us now examine the possibility of these two parallel trends actually meeting, and the exciting opportunities this confluence may offer. As Heisenberg has pointed out in his quote (reproduced right at the beginning of these Notes), if trends that are taking place in different parts of human culture, in different times or different cultural environments or different religious traditions actually meet, or even interact, then fruitful and interesting developments are likely to follow. Within the narrow field of quantum mechanics itself, exciting developments have been forecast by its stalwarts. of

Somewhere something incredible is waiting to happen, is how John Wheeler had

put it. John Bells words were: the new way of seeing things will involve an

imaginative leap that will astonish us. If these developments were to be of a


nature that will bring in Relativity also into the picture and this must happen if the nature of light or photon becomes the centerpiece then Heisenbergs Page | 95 prediction would mean the onset of a very, very major revolution in science. If, in addition, these developments encompass not just science but the notion of civilization and progress as emphasized by Gandhi, then its effects on our lives would be truly staggering. In terms of developments taking place within science, the physicist David Peat, in collaboration with John Briggs, has captured the essence of these new developments by using the analogy of the earthquake, and titled his book Looking Glass Universe: The Emerging Science of Wholeness so that those who are familiar with Lewis Caroll and Alice in Wonderland can readily relate to these new ideas:
Science and its sister, technology, are full of surprises so many surprises its difficult to be surprised anymore. Black holes, genetic engineering, dust-sized computer chips what next? Were ready for anything. The theories and artifacts of science have long since become firmly established on our landscape, spreading and changing like a citys skyline. Weve all become inhabitants in this city. Around us new structures rise, redevelopment projects take place as discoveries come and go. We take it in, rather jaded by this fast-paced and dazzling environment. But lately, faintly, there has been a rumbling of the ground, a change in the light: mysterious signs. Strange reports reach us from people who have been working beneath the ground, in the deepest structures of the city, that they may have uncovered something, stirred something, which could drastically change the city and all those who inhabit it. We have called the theoreticians who bring us these reports scientists of the looking-glass. They have a deep surprise in store for us, they say deep because it is a surprise at the very foundations of science. And yet, however, our citys planners dont seem worried. They assure us our basic structures and conveyances are safe. Hard evidence for lookingglass science is scanty, and its proponents are hopelessly outnumbered. Who are these rebel theorists? What kind of great change do they portend? We will answer these questions by focusing on four theories covering the spectrum of science from physics to chemistry to biology to

the study of the processes of the brain. The theories have been proposed by eminent professionals exhaustively trained in the traditions of their fields and respected by colleagues for competence, precision and past contribution. Yet the universe they collectively describe is so different from the scientific landscape that we have grown up in that the situation can Page | 96 perhaps be compared to the Renaissance when the first modern scientists and great theoreticians Copernicus, Galileo and Newton broke out of the labyrinths of medieval theology. That revolution took hundreds of years to unfold. This one could take only decades

The four rebel theorists that Peat and Briggs have chosen for building up the base of their book and its conclusions are David Bohm the physicist, Ilya Prigogine the physical chemist, Rupert Sheldrake the biologist and Karl Pribram the neurophysiologist each highly respected in his field of specialization, and each proposing a view of reality which resonates with mysticism. No wonder that the scientific establishment has chosen to ignore their ideas, despite their reputation. Fritjof Capra has captured beautifully the cultural revolution such an earthquake resulting from a Science of Wholeness would cause:
At present, our attitude is too yang to use Chinese phraseology too rational, male and aggressive. Scientists themselves are a typical example. Although their theories are leading to a world-view which is similar to that of the mystics, it is striking how little this has affected the attitude of most scientists. In mysticism, knowledge cannot be separated from a certain way of life which becomes its living manifestation. To acquire mystical knowledge means to undergo a transformation; one could even say that the knowledge is the transformation. Scientific knowledge, on the other hand, can often stay abstract and theoretical. Thus most of todays physicists do not seem to realize the philosophical, cultural and spiritual implications of their theories. Many of them actively support a society which is still based on the mechanistic, fragmented world-view without seeing that science points beyond such a view, towards a oneness of the universe which includes not only our natural environment but also our fellow human beings. I believe that the world-view implied by modern physics is inconsistent with our present society, which does not reflect the harmonious interrelatedness we observe in nature. To achieve such a state of dynamic balance, a radically different social and economic structure will be needed: a cultural revolution in the true sense of the word. The survival of our whole civilization may depend on whether we can bring about such a change. It will depend, ultimately, on our ability to adopt some of the yin

attitudes of Eastern mysticism; to experience the wholeness of nature and the art of living with it in harmony.

If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would only have four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man. Einstein If nonviolence is the law of our being, the future is with woman. Mahatma Gandhi
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