Bhatta wrote – The “NOW” concept of Vedanta – “If I ask you this question – where is the Sun ‘Now’?” … “Not only the sun, but all the ‘now’ objects in the universe are present within each one of us as mental waveforms.”
There is a problem with the thesis.
What we perceive is not reality, but a subconsciously created model of reality.
Our experience is of the model, never the thing itself.
It is not possible to know the now anything.
The very idea of now – is a classical one, that really doesn’t work in the world of general relativity, nor that of quantum mechanics.
Part of the problem is not that scientists try to deceive people, but that the interpretive schema that is used by science is so different from that used by most people, that there is little commonality of terms.
For me, as a scientist, truth cannot be known with absolute certainty, it can only be approached and approximated with probability statements.
Reality, whatever it actually is, can only ever be crudely approximated by out models and perceptions of it, it is just so complex.
So many ideas that most people take for granted, are in a very real sense simplistic (and often useful) illusions in a very real sense.
We all have to use approximations to reality, we have no other choice, we are not complex enough to be able to see the complexity of reality as it is – we have to simplify it. Its just that often what appears to me as a useful simplification might appear to others as something impossibly complex.
Hi Bhatta, Judi, Mendy Lou, Deb, OM, FOS and lurkers,
So many different aspects of being discussed here.
In my understanding, all contribute an aspect of this experience of being we have, within this matrix we call reality (whatever it actually is).
Our experience of time seems to come from a sequencing of memories. That events happen in an order.
The more deeply one takes a scientific exploration of that, the stranger it gets.
At the quantum level, it seems that not many of our “common sense” notions actually work very well.
At the quantum level, time and space mix, and are spread out and are not at all as localised as we expect phenomena to be in our normal experiential world.
The world of electromagnetism seems to be two orthogonal expressions of something that spiral together to give time. Time in this sense being local to the things doing the twisting in and out of each others existence.
Light in this sense seems to be timeless. It is the carrier of information about the state of another system in another place, but it does not appear to be altered by the passage of time. It is kind of like matter being the space like expression of being, and light being the time like expression of being; and that seems to be a necessary oversimplification of something profoundly more complex and interesting (as it also seems to contain a constrained interaction between order and chaos, at every level).
I have been asking questions about the nature of being for over 60 years.
I haven’t been particularly constrained by any culture or dogma in my questions (and most of what most people think of as science occurs to me as dogma – certainly most of what is taught below the level of PhD, and even a substantial chunk of that).
So I can get that we all have the experiences that we have, and that we have each reported here; and the underlying reality matrix that supports that existence seems to me (beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt) to be more complex than all of our current computation and recording systems are capable of expressing – which includes all computers, all books and other storage media, and all human and animal minds.
That notion really is worth reading again, and thinking about.
If that is true, and such seems very probable to me; then just how simple must even our most complex models be, when compared to the thing itself?
That is a really humbling thought!
To me, it shows substantial hubris that we even have the word “Truth” in our lexicon.
It seems more appropriate to me that by the time we leave kindergarten we should already understand that “useful approximation” is as good as it gets, and “Truth” is just for very small children.
I don’t know that anything necessarily applies to reality in an absolute sense.
We have lots of sets of evidence that imply things about the nature of that tiny subset of reality we have looked at closely, which tends to support the idea that certain ideas or models work reasonably reliably in the domains for which we have evidence.
The classical supposition was that “Truth” could be known, and it was our job to discover it.
That notion seems, beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt, to have been disproven.
So what sorts of evidence do we have to address aspects of your question?
What seems very probably to be the case is (and read very probably in every statement following, even though for brevity’s sake I will not write it):
We now have the modern synthesis of evolutionary biology, which is an extremely complex thing, with relatively simple beginnings.
The idea that something that can leave copies of itself, with some reasonable degree of fidelity (but not perfect every time), will create a population of those copies, and some of the variants will survive better in some contexts than others. Depending on the degree of separation between contexts (in terms of generation numbers), those populations can develop sufficient differences that they essentially become separate entities (we call species).
Under certain conditions, where the threat to individual replicators from factors outside the population exceeds the combined threat from all other members of the population, cooperative strategies can emerge and stabilise, allowing for new levels of complexity to emerge.
All cooperative systems require the adoption of secondary strategies to detect and remove cheating strategies if they are to survive long term.
In the history of our ancestors this process seems to have occurred at least 12 times, and probably 15.
As a result we are the most cooperative species on the planet.
And we can compete if the context demands it.
One of the levels to emerge in this process was the development of brains (things to control movement) capable not simply of responding to external stimuli, but of creating complex models of the external world, in which other agents could be modeled.
At some later stage there emerged the ability to share information between models using signals (which many animals do), which eventually became abstract language.
At some later stage, we developed the software “trick” of making a declarative statement in language that bootstraps a new level of software entity into existence (what we call our self awareness).
That languaging self awareness exists on top of (and coexistent with) the pre languaging awareness and levels of systems.
So how does all that relate to your question?
It seems that we exist simultaneously in two separate realms.
We are physical beings, with physical bodies, and we are also software entities.
Just like a computer is a physical bit of matter, yet when it runs appropriate software it can do amazing things.
We are like that in a sense, yet far more complex, far less predictable, far better adapted to surviving in ever changing contexts.
We are not just the spiritual (software) entity, we have all these other layers below it that are a real part of us being what we are in reality (both physically and spiritually).
And as software entities, we are always implicitly dealing with models, rather than with the things that they model.
Mathematics and logic are abstract systems that contain absolutes derived from sets of premises. Accept those premises, and all else necessarily follows in a sense (but the search space of the possible contains an infinite set of infinities, so it is not knowable in any absolute sense).
Because these are such great modeling tools, most confuse the tool with the thing it models (which is understandable in a sense, because all of our perceptions are perceptions of models, never the thing they model). Thus our understandings are always models of models in a very real sense.
Did I mention we are complex ? 😉
So no, they are not made up “merely to explain” and they are used to explain, and reality doesn’t necessarily have exactly the form that our models do in mathematics or logic. So the concepts exist in conceptual space, and are useful to us in our existence in reality.
They exist in the abstract sense in which any abstract system exists; but that does not mean that they necessarily have one to one correspondence with anything real (whatever physical reality actually is – which I suspect is something stranger than our relatively simple minds can know at one time – bits and pieces, sketches, caricatures, those certainly – but the totality, no – far too complex, far too numerous – no-chance).
Should we live the rest of eternity, learning daily, it could still be magical and mysterious. It does in fact seem to be that complex.