This is the transcript of this sixth episode of my podcast. Semantic atomic theory or the semantic interpretation of atomic theory is the idea that atoms are symbols of meaning and instead of the classical physical properties such as energy, momentum, angular momentum, and spin, these atoms possess semantic properties which are called beauty, power, wealth, and fame. Once we change the properties by which matter is described, we also change the nature of forces. Instead of the mechanical push and pull forces we have to now use the forces of consistency, competition, cooperation, and completion that operate between the meanings. So there is a different idea about material properties and a different idea about material force, and this is what I mean by semantic atomic theory. Once we understand this new kind of atomism, we can also talk about different kind of technology which can emerge from the understanding of this atomism.
Table of Contents
- 1 Why Study the Atoms?
- 2 How is Atomism Connected to Mysticism?
- 3 Are Atoms Things or Symbols?
- 4 The Flattening of Hierarchical Space
- 5 What is Hierarchical Space?
- 6 The Six Qualities of a Symbol
- 7 Completing the Theory of Atomism
- 8 The Three Components of Force
- 9 The Refinement of Commonsense Experience
- 10 What is Semantic Technology?
- 11 With Great Power Comes Greater Responsibility
Why Study the Atoms?
You have authored a Semantic Interpretation of Quantum Theory, and in many other places, you talk about atomic theory as an important area. Why this obsession with atoms and molecules? Aren’t there more important things to talk about in the context of the Vedas? Is this some kind of Vedic Physics that forms the basis of other areas of science?
There is nothing called Vedic physics. Anyone who is doing Vedic physics is doing pseudoscience.
In Vedic philosophy, there are no distinctions such as physics, chemistry, biology, psychology, etc. These divisions are the creations of modern Western science. Modern science believes that there are different objects or targets for different kinds of studies of the external world. In Vedic philosophy, we are not studying the world; we are rather studying conscious experience. When you have conscious experience, you do not only have sensations. You also have thoughts, judgments, emotions, and morals. In fact, all these are simply aspects of our conscious experience. You cannot say that I will have sensation but not thought and judgment. In every perception, we have all of these aspects together. Therefore, when we study experience, we can speak about the many distinct aspects, but we study all of them.
Similarly, whether we study physics, chemistry, or biology, from the standpoint of conscious experience we are having sensations, concepts, judgments, intentions, and morals. So the physicist thinks that he is studying a different subject from the chemist, and the chemist thinks their work is different from a biologist but from the standpoint of Vedic philosophy, we never study physics, chemistry, or biology. We always study components of conscious experience and their creation, and all these components exist in every type of experience whether you study physics, chemistry, or biology. Therefore, these distinctions called physics, chemistry, biology, etc. have no meaning in Vedic philosophy, because the goal is to study the creation of conscious experience, and physics, chemistry, biology are included in that.
Hence, in Vedic philosophy, we are not studying the parts of the world. We are rather studying the parts of conscious experience. The Vedic material elements are components of this experience. Every experience contains all the parts. Therefore, unlike modern science where we separate out all these subjects like physics, chemistry, and biology, we never separate them in Vedic philosophy.
Nevertheless, the material objects, the properties in terms of which we study these objects, the senses, the mind, intellect, ego, and morality – which are constituents of human experience – are built up from ‘atoms’. These atoms are physically small. In fact, they are so small, that each atom constitutes a position or location in space. This position, however, is not an infinitesimal point. The atoms in Vedic philosophy are small vibrations, and these vibrations are termed śabda or ‘sound’. To vibrate, each atom has to have a form because infinitesimal points cannot vibrate. Due to this form, the location it occupies also has the same form. In fact, the form of the object, and the form of the location are identical. Therefore, space location is not an infinitesimal point and space is not infinitely divisible into points. Each location has a form, so the position is only as big as it needs to hold the form of the symbol and no bigger.
These locations are defined in relation to a hierarchy of locations, which we have discussed earlier in the podcast The Tree of Meanings. Therefore, not only are we changing the notion of a location, but also the notion of distance between locations. It becomes a hierarchical space or tree-like structure.
The fact that these atoms are small – and therefore have a definite position in space – does not however tell us the main thing about the Vedic ideology, which is that these atoms are symbols of meaning. I can create a symbol that denotes the meaning ‘universe’. The symbol can be small, but the meaning of the symbol is very big. Therefore, once we study symbols, then physical properties are detached from meanings. For example, a small thing can represent a big idea, and a big thing can represent a small idea. As a result, we now focus on a new type of causality based on the meaning, rather than the physical property. Therefore, even though the thing is physically very small, it has a big effect provided it is the symbol of a big meaning. Therefore, the laws of nature that are based on big and small physical things become irrelevant. Only the laws that deal with the big or small meaning are relevant.
Thus, Vedic philosophy is studying symbols, and the meaning of a symbol is given in relation to the higher symbol, but each symbol is by itself a vibration. If we study these symbols simply as vibrations, then we see them physically. However, when the symbols are embodiments of meaning given through the hierarchy of symbols, then the same world is understood as meaning. Therefore, the main difference between physical and semantic atomism is hierarchy. Modern science neglects this hierarchy, and vibrations are physical particles interacting with each other through a force field. In the semantic picture, the same physical particles are symbols of meaning, and the force field is the hierarchy that connects a symbol to other symbols. The physical particle and the force field of modern science change into a theory of meaning and symbols. The term “Vedic physics” would mean that I am treating the vibration physically, which is wrong. It is the study of meaning through and through.
How is Atomism Connected to Mysticism?
In an earlier conversation, you mentioned that these vibrations are called śabda brahmān indicating that there is a deeper origin of these vibrations than what we observe. Can you elaborate on this idea, because it seems to connect matter with mysticism?
The soul in Vedic philosophy has three aspects. Cognition or chit is the first aspect. This is not a particular cognition, but cognition itself. It is the most abstract idea, which then divides into parts. For example, color divides into red, blue, and green. The idea and its parts are all called chit.
Then each of these ideas expands into the instances of the idea. This instantiation or expansion is called sat or awareness. Unlike our commonsense notion of awareness which goes outside-in when we become aware of the world, this awareness goes inside-out when the meaning inside is expressed outwardly. The idea is that even when we perceive the world, the senses are going out to interact with the world rather than the world coming into the body to create an impression. So, these senses are compared to the limbs of a tortoise which puts the limbs out in order to interact with the world. Before we put the senses out, there is already a mind, so by putting out the limbs we seek what is already in the mind and we convert those ideas which are in the mind into objects that the senses can see. So the sat is the expansion of ideas into objects, which is why there are many instances of each idea.
Now that the ideas have divided and expanded into things, each person develops a perspective on that thing by which something is foreground and something is the background. Just like when you see a painting you create a perspective in that painting by which something is foreground and background. The ordering requires a method and these methods are the moods or emotions by which we prioritize and deprioritize things. This is called ānanda or pleasure because we enjoy different methods of prioritizing and our pleasure is the method of prioritizing things. So, even if there is a fixed external reality, what we prioritize among that reality remains our personal choice. So, the higher priority things are counted or ordered before the lower priority things. So this ānanda forms a personal space in which things are situated. On the other hand, chit is the objective space, and sat is the relational space.
In the objective space, things just exist, but they do not interact. Just like our body exists as abilities but it remains inert unless the body acts in relation to something else. Then in the relational space, these abilities can interact with specific other abilities. Finally, from the personal space, we create an interpretation of the objects and their interactions. The laws of sat and chit are objective, but there is a subjective feeling derived from knowing this world which is called ānanda.
Once we understand these three aspects of the soul, then we have to understand that each of these three aspects of the soul has many subdivisions. For example, there are many types of emotions or happiness, many types of relations to the object of knowledge, and many types of objects. There is a very complex and sophisticated theory regarding these types. For example, there are 64 types of pleasures, 72 types of knowledge, and 84 types of relations. These construct a typology of elementary types. Then these elementary types also combine with each other and create infinite types. So, the world is said to be created from all these types and their various combinations. All these types are considered atomic because they are fundamental concepts. Everything is built from these fundamental concepts.
In a simple sense, everything is being created from the three aspects of the soul. In a complex sense, this soul is the source of many types of desires, relations, and objects. So, the theory of these types is the theory of conscious experience, and everything in the universe is covered within conscious experience. When we talk about atomism we are talking about every type of possible experience and the atoms of the universe are the elementary concepts or types from which this experience is created.
This is a different kind of atomism than the atomism of modern science which is said to comprise only material objects. In Vedic atomism, the atoms are constituents of conscious experience. So when we talk about śabda brahmān we are talking about these types in their elementary form. And when we talk about the material world we are talking about the combinations of these elementary types. Since the soul is spiritual, the original elementary types created from the soul are also spiritual. All these types are eternal, but their combinations in the material world are temporary. So in one sense, by the study of matter, we are studying the eternal types, and then also their temporary combinations. So, even the study of matter is spiritual if we focus on the eternal types because by studying these types we learn about the nature of the self rather than just the nature of matter. If we only study temporary combinations then the study is material because we don’t learn about the soul. So, there is a spiritual science and what we mean by this is that it is the study of eternal types. Material science is the study of the combinations of these types. So one who knows spiritual science can also practice material science, but one who knows material science may know nothing about spiritual science.
Are Atoms Things or Symbols?
This śabda brahmān is said to be vibrations and sometimes ‘sound’. So, there appear to be two different descriptions. In the first description, we talk about types, and in the second description, we talk about vibrations. Are these two separate things or are they related?
They are the same description, not different descriptions. The description in terms of vibration is more detailed. The basic idea is that there are many types, and we can understand these types as ideas. Once we have ideas we can express them in language. But since everything is created from these types therefore even language is produced from these types. So, these types are the atoms of language itself. So the high-level idea is that there are many types. And the detailed idea is that these types are sounds of language. So that’s why these sounds are called śabda brahmān or original sounds.
In yoga philosophy, it is said that yogah chitta vritii nirodhah. That is, the purpose of yoga is to stop the vritti or modifications of the chit. These modifications are like waves in the ocean. The basic idea is that the vast ocean is very calm. If you see the ocean from high above, you will see that the ocean is almost flat. Then within this vast ocean waves are created. Like that the chit is the ocean and parts of the chit are the vibrations. As we divide the chit we create the waves. So the process of dividing the chit automatically produces the waves. It is like saying that if you take an infinite string it is not going to vibrate. But if you cut the string into parts then it vibrates. So the various ways of dividing the string into smaller strings also create vibrations. The original chit is a very low-frequency vibration which is why it is said to be calm. But then this chit is divided to create many parts. As this chit is divided into smaller parts, the vibrations are increased. But to study the smallest part we have to know the hierarchy of the divisions from the whole to the first division, second division, third division, and so on.
So in yoga philosophy, the idea is that if we want to become calm again then we will let go of these divisions and merge back into the ocean of knowledge. Similarly, if we want to study the world then we have to take into account these successive divisions, which create smaller and smaller parts. So, when we say that śabda brahmān is vibrations we are basically talking about the divisions. And when we say that brahmān is total silence or calmness we are talking about the original undivided state. From brahmān comes śabda brahmān which means the calm unity is divided into parts. So because the chit is the original type, all the divisions of chit are subtypes. And because this chit is a vibration, therefore, the smaller divisions of chit are smaller vibrations. So the type and the vibration are the same thing.
The Flattening of Hierarchical Space
So what is the relation between these vibrations of chit and modern atomic theory? Is it that these vibrations are being modeled in atomic theory as atomic vibrations?
Yes, the vibrations of chit are being described in atomic theory as the wavefunction. However, there are problems in understanding these waves because these are not like water waves. The wave involves complex numbers rather than real numbers and there are two waves called ᴪ and ᴪ* which move in opposite directions. So the first problem is that these waves exist in a complex number space rather than a real number space, and so we cannot think of them in the normal way as real water waves. And the second problem is that there are two waves going in opposite directions. To resolve the first problem we have to say that these waves exist in a different kind of space. And to resolve the second problem we have to say that these are standing waves such that there is a backward and forward component.
Now standing waves is not such a big problem because we are familiar with standing waves even in the case of the real world. For example, all musical string vibrations are standing waves. So the real problem comes in terms of conceiving a new type of space that has both real and imaginary dimensions. What is this imaginary component of the wave, what does it have to do with the real world remains a big problem in science. Unless we solve this problem we cannot understand quantum theory.
My answer to this problem is that space is not flat. It is like a tree with roots, trunks, branches, and leaves. So the root is the superspace, and trunks are subspaces and branches are sub-sub spaces, and so on. When we try to flatten this hierarchy of spaces into a single space, we get complex numbers because we are subsuming the dimension that describes the position in the hierarchy within the same space and therefore we have to think about an imaginary dimension different from the real dimension. Factually, there is no such thing as an imaginary dimension. It is an artifact of mathematics when we try to flatten the hierarchy. But even this use of imaginary numbers is insufficient because a hierarchical space is infinite-dimensional because each trunk, branch, and leaf of the tree is a dimension. So how can we capture this infinite-dimensional structure within just two dimensions? This leads to the problem of probability because we can describe one level of hierarchy by supposing that the subspace is inside the super-space but we cannot use the same type dimension to describe the relationship between the super-space and the super-super space. So even with complex numbers, we end up in probabilities.
So, the reality is that there are vibrations and these are hierarchical. But because we describe these hierarchical vibrations in a flat space we end up with complex numbers and probabilities. Then we have problems in understanding the nature of atomic theory due to complex numbers and probabilities.
What is Hierarchical Space?
Does this mean that if we simply changed the idea of space from flat to hierarchical we would be able to understand the nature of atomic theory? If not, what is additionally required?
Yes, it is sufficient to understand quantum theory with hierarchy, but hierarchy will change the nature of causality in science. Hierarchy means that the higher-level vibration is not in the same space as the lower-level vibration. So, you have to go out of the lower space into a higher space. And there are infinite such spaces. And you make a change in the higher space, the change is automatically effected in the lower space. So not only are there infinite spaces but causality is between spaces. We cannot think of this type of causality in the physical model of nature because in the physical model causality has to remain within a space. There is no notion of one space communicating with another space.
So hierarchy brings a new problem of causality – or the problem of how to understand causality. And this problem can only be solved when we say that this hierarchy is semantic rather than physical. So the cause that connects two or more spaces is not in any other space. Rather this space is matter and the cause connecting the spaces is like the force. So there are two kinds of spaces—one that we call matter and the other which we call force. And these spaces are connected to each other by the force such that the lower space becomes a subspace of the higher space without being physically embedded inside it. The subspace is in a sense a part of the superspace but it is not physically inside the superspace. So when you change the meaning in the higher space, the meaning in the lower space is automatically changed. So, this model of interaction between spaces needs a new type of causality.
A material particle in this type of space has possessed properties that we call its vibration. But it also has a meaning given by its hierarchical position relative to higher spaces. So we cannot describe a particle by itself. Rather, we have to take into account the position of the subspace inside the complete hierarchy of superspaces. This hierarchical position itself represents the meaning. So, if we take each individual particle then it is a vibration, but if we take lots of these particles arranged in a hierarchy then it is a meaning. The causal property is due to the hierarchical arrangement. So as we talk about Vedic atomism we are talking about these vibrations, but the causality is not in the vibration but the total hierarchy of vibrations. This means that it is not sufficient to know the energy, momentum, angular momentum, and spin of the individual particles, but rather of the entire hierarchy.
In fact, these properties that we call energy, momentum, angular momentum, and spin are not physical properties anymore. The particle in question is a symbol, and these properties are the meanings of the symbol. This meaning is not one thing. Rather it has many aspects, so these properties are aspects of meaning. So, we can no longer describe the physics. Rather we have to describe the semantics.
The Six Qualities of a Symbol
Can you elaborate on what are these aspects of meaning? Are they different types of meaning? Or are they just different ways of expressing the same meaning?
There are six aspects of a symbol. The first thing is that there is a physically unique individual symbol. The second aspect is that this symbol has a conceptual meaning. Then the third aspect is that this symbol has a form or shape by which it is represented. The fourth aspect is that this symbol can have an effect on others. The fifth aspect is that this symbol has a purpose for which it has been created. And finally, the sixth aspect is that there is a process by which this symbol has been created.
These six aspects of a symbol are described in Vedic philosophy as six qualities called knowledge, beauty, fame, power, wealth, and detachment or renunciation. The thing we call objective independent particles is due to detachment because of which we think that two things are separated and therefore independent. Modern science is based on this idea about detachment which creates independent particles. But there are five other ways in which this individual thing gets its meaning.
The first of these five aspects is that there is a conceptual meaning of the symbol or the idea that the symbol represents. This conceptual meaning is called knowledge. Then in order to express this meaning, you need to employ a shape or form. This shape or form constitutes the beauty of the symbol. There is a difference between the idea itself and the form through which it is represented and the same idea can potentially be expressed through different forms. Therefore, beauty is different from knowledge. You can present the idea through prose or poetry, the poetry can be read or sung, and so on. So the beauty is present in the final symbol, but it is in addition to the concept that is being expressed. The beauty is the form of the symbol and includes things like verse, musical composition, shape, etc.
Then in order to construct this symbol, we have to go step by step. You can have an idea expressed in a short sentence or a long sentence; you can use big words or small words. So, there is a process by which a thing is constructed. This process is the cost of constructing that thing. In the book Yellow Pill for example I have argued that the process of construction constitutes the cost, and it is called wealth. The cost of something is embedded in that thing; wealth is not merely supply-and-demand perception. Rather by knowing the process by which something is created we know the cost of that thing.
Once something has been created, it acquires the power to bring a change to the world. For example, you can use a knife to cut vegetables, a wrench to tighten a screw. These things are what we generally call abilities of that thing. Using these abilities, we can create change in this world. Therefore, this ability in the object to solve a problem or bring about a change in the world is called power. Again, this power is within the object as its abilities, and to use the power you must apply it to the correct problem.
Finally, an object is designed for a purpose or solving a problem. So, there is a relation between the thing and the problem it solves. For example, knives can be of many types. Some knife is used to slice butter and some knife is used to cut vegetables. So, the butter knife and the vegetable knife have different problems. Generally, we begin by the problem to be solved, then determine the powers or abilities it must have to function, then understand the cost of producing that thing, and then the form of the object. So, the intended purpose of a thing is also inside that thing, but it exists as a reference to something outside of that thing—i.e. the problem. The problem creates a demand for the thing and hence this reference is called fame. Something is in demand if it solves an important problem.
So, qualities like knowledge, renunciation, fame, beauty, power, and wealth are technical terms. They are present in each object, but knowledge is the basic concept like a knife. Then renunciation is the individual knife. The ability of the knife to cut things is its power. The step-by-step process by which the knife is created represents wealth. The shape and form of that knife – e.g. a beautiful handle or smooth surface with etching on the knife – constitute the beauty of that knife. And the intention underlying the knife’s creation or the users that will use the knife represents the fame of that knife.
So, when we speak about a knife, we can think of it in terms of a pure idea. We can also think of it in terms of a particular object. These are easily understood. What is a little harder to understand is that there is beauty in the knife, power in the knife, cost of the knife, and the problem the knife is meant to solve, which are all present in the knife. So, when we speak about a knife there is an abstract definition, and there are successively more refined definitions in terms of ability, cost, beauty, and usefulness. All these definitions must be provided in order to fully understand the knife. So ‘knife’ is an abstract idea and there are four ways to understand that idea which are present within the knife.
So just like modern atomic theory studies all quantum objects in terms of four properties—namely, energy, momentum, angular momentum, and spin—similarly, there is a different way to study material objects in terms of four properties once we recognize that these objects are symbols. This new way to study the symbol will start with a high-level definition of a symbol as a concept, and then use the properties such as fame, power, beauty, and wealth to refine the definition of that concept. So, we can say that each particle is a type due to the concept, and it has four properties because that concept is refined by these additional properties, and all these properties are present in the object.
Completing the Theory of Atomism
So, when you talk about the Semantic Interpretation of Quantum Theory you are basically referring to the Vedic notion of atoms as symbols of meaning, and the different types of meaning of an object. For example, the meaning of a knife is given by a concept, a use case, a power or ability, the form, and the process by which it was created. And this description can replace the modern description of atoms in terms of physical properties?
It is not just a replacement, but also the completion of an incomplete theory, and a better understanding of atoms. For example, as I mentioned above, we describe reality in terms of complex numbers, and even then this description is incomplete. That’s why atomic theory is counterintuitive.
If instead, we replace classical properties with the six qualities then everything suddenly becomes very intuitive. We can see that every symbol has some meaning, some beauty, some power, some use case, and some method by which it was produced and that once it is produced it exists as an individual. So by changing the description of the atom we make the atom much more understandable.
So, it is not a mere replacement of an incomplete theory with another incomplete theory. It is a replacement that also makes the theory complete, understandable, and intuitive.
The Three Components of Force
One of the fundamental cornerstones of modern science is the idea of force. In fact, all properties of matter are defined in relation to these forces. For example, mass is measured through the effect of the gravitational force; charge is measured by the electromagnetic force, and so on. So, in modern science properties such as mass and charge create force, and that force causes changes. This makes the entire theory deterministic, because once you have the physical property like mass or charge, then you automatically have gravitational or electromagnetic force, and then the effect of the force is also automatic. In what way is this idea of force used or not used in the context of the atomism you are talking about?
You are making a good point because once we change the idea about matter, we must also change the notion of force. We have already talked about how each object has some power, which exists as the ability to cause changes. But this power is not used by itself. It just exists as the ability. To convert this power or ability into change two other things are required. The first thing is that there must be another object to which this power can be applied, so a relationship to the other object must be established.
In atomic theory, we know that all objects do not interact with each other all the time. Rather, an object will occasionally interact with some objects, and this is because all the objects don’t have relationships to each other all the time. These relationships are created to produce an interaction. These relationships are the first thing to be established before a change can happen. Then the second thing is that there must be a choice to use the ability. Just like I have the ability to hit someone but there must be someone to hit, and then I must choose to hit. So, what we call force in modern science is a combination of three things—namely ability, choice, and opportunity. The ability lies dormant until an opportunity is available. And even when there is an opportunity I must choose to act. Thus, the ability is chit and the opportunity is sat and the choice is ānanda. All three must be present to create an effect.
In classical physics forces are deterministic. This means that the power in matter exists not as an ability but as a force that will always act. And this force is acting on everything in the universe at once. And hence there is no choice involved in deciding whether it must act and when it must act. So, determinism is the consequence of thinking that there is something called force in nature when the fact is that this so-called force is the combination of three things—power, choice, and opportunity. When we distinguish between these three things, then the force is seen only when the three things combine. Otherwise, there is no force. So, force is again deconstructed into three different parts. And by this deconstruction, we can say that force is under the control of choice and opportunity or what we call guna and karma. The material object only has the power, but to apply this power we need choice and opportunity. So, by the deconstruction, the mechanical force is replaced by a non-mechanical force.
Now we have to talk about how we choose to use our power, and how we get the opportunity to use the power. Just like you may be a very intelligent man, but if you don’t get to talk to intelligent people then you cannot demonstrate your intelligence. Similarly, you may come in contact with other intelligent people but you may choose not to demonstrate your intelligence to them. So, intelligence is just power or ability. It has to be combined with choice and opportunity to create an effect. The world is not governed by mechanical forces, although each material object has the power to create change.
Now the forces between things are due to their knowledge, beauty, power, wealth, and fame. There are four kinds of forces that arise due to the interactions between meanings. The first force is consistency, and it brings things together. We say that birds of the same feather flock together. So, knowledge attracts other knowledgeable people, power brings powerful people together, etc. The second force is competition or opposition. Just like two wealthy people try to outdo each other, two knowledgeable people try to demonstrate their superiority, two beautiful people are envious of each other. So, by consistency things aggregate into the same type of grouping, and by competition, they split into opposite groups, but even this tendency to compete brings things together. Just like warriors and sportsmen need someone to compete with. Then the third force is complementarity or incompleteness. Just like a lame man and a blind man join hands; they are not similar to each other and they are not competing with each other, but they agree to cooperate with each other demonstrating their ability for their mutual benefit. Finally, the fourth force is completeness when there is a transcendent unifying force that brings them together. For example, people in an organization join hands to achieve a purpose beyond themselves. The difference between complementarity and completeness is that in complementarity we serve each other’s needs and in completeness we serve a need that is beyond each of the participating individuals.
So, these forces are pulling and pushing things. Sometimes due to consistency things come together and then due to inconsistency they fall apart. Due to competition things come together and when the competition is over they fall apart. When there is cooperation things come together and when individuality dominates then everyone does things for their own benefit rather than things for mutual benefit. Finally, when we have a transcendent purpose we sacrifice our self-interests and when this transcendent purpose is removed then people first act in their self-interest, and then even compete with each other, ultimately finding cliques where they can co-exist due to consistency.
So, when we think about material particles we envision deterministic physical forces. But when we think about meanings then first determinism goes out the window and then the physical force is replaced by the forces of consistency, competition, cooperation, and completion. These four types of forces act at different levels. For example, at the family level, we want consistency. At the organization level, we need competition. At the level of society, we desire cooperation. And ultimately to find fulfillment in life we have to see all of existence as serving a higher or transcendent purpose that unifies everything. So, even though it appears that these forces are acting against each other, due to the hierarchy these conflicts are reconciled. The interaction between two systems can be modeled in any of these four ways, which means that we have revised the definition of force from physics to semantics. A deep understanding of these forces will take a lot of time, but I have summarized the ideas briefly here.
The Refinement of Commonsense Experience
This idea of force and matter seems very intuitive. It is almost like we are saying that the principles of attraction and repulsion in atomic objects are like the principles of attraction and repulsion among human beings. Just like two rich people can become friends because they are rich, or they can become competitors because they are rich, or they can collaborate to further their individual richness, or they can join hands to serve a bigger cause, in the same way with meanings it is possible to think of a new type of forces of interaction.
Einstein once said that all science is a refinement of everyday experience. Just like classical mechanics was created by refining the idea of billiard ball collisions, and the theory of light was created by refining the idea of water waves. So, since time immemorial humans have been looking at specific phenomena and generalizing them insisting that everything in nature must follow this particular model. So, when we talk about a semantic science we have to look at semantic phenomena and grasp their essence.
In the book The Yellow Pill, I have described how these four types of forces manifest in four social classes where the workers embody consistency, the businessmen represent competition, the government brings cooperation, and the moral intellectual describes the transcendence for completeness. So, just by observing the working of society and the forces at play between individuals, we can get an inkling of what we mean by attraction and repulsion between different kinds of meanings. And with this inkling, we can start to think about a new model of force. This model is drawn from a completely different set of phenomena. We are not looking at water waves and billiard balls. We are rather looking at the interactions between sentient beings and how they come together or fall apart. And by understanding this social dynamic based on the meaning we can understand a new theory of forces.
What is Semantic Technology?
Since the success of science is measured by the type of technology it can produce, how do you think this new understanding of force can bring about a new type of technology?
It will be a science and technology of non-linearity because meanings are hierarchical. For example, you can go to a physics class and learn Newton’s laws of motion, and you can use these laws to write exams where you compute the acceleration based on the force applied. This is superficial knowledge. The deep knowledge is that when I practice these Newton’s laws then I start thinking that nature is actually deterministic and therefore I have no free will in choosing, and therefore I am not responsible for my actions. So, the study of Newton’s laws involves a transfer of information which is superficial. During the course of this transfer, the teacher can also transfer a deeper level information which becomes our belief system and moral system according to which I am not responsible for my actions. Even those who have not studied Newton’s laws or don’t know enough physics to apply these laws to solve problems of physics can have the belief that nature is working according to deterministic laws.
So, what we mean by non-linearity is that some meanings are superficial and some meanings are deep. From a physical perspective, it can appear that the same amount of energy is being transferred in teaching a person superficial and deep knowledge, but the deep knowledge causes very dramatic changes while the superficial knowledge brings very small changes. If we only look at the world superficially then a lot of energy is required to bring about a big change. But if we look at things in a hierarchy then a big change can be created by only expending a little bit of energy because we are causing a deep change. You can think of this in terms of the tree structure. If the seed of the tree is modified, then all the leaves and fruits of the tree are modified. We don’t have to separately modify each leaf and fruit in the tree. So, the flat system is linear in the sense that to create a big change we must spend a lot of effort and energy. But the hierarchical system is non-linear because to create a big change we don’t necessarily have to spend a lot of effort. A small effort will create a big change.
Both quantum theory and classical mechanics are linear theories in the sense that to create a big change we need to spend a lot of effort. But when we talk about a semantic science, then a small effort can create a big change. It requires two things. First, we have to understand that nature is hierarchical so if we are able to change nature at a deeper level, then the superficial level change automatically follows. Second, we have to know how to change matter at a deep level which requires meaning.
So, this ability to control nature at a deep level from which superficial changes automatically follow is the novelty in the new science and technology. It means that we don’t need to create industrialization and factories to fulfill the needs of life. We can also create that deeper level change by which food will be automatically created, there will be an abundance of water and clean air, the weather will be pleasant, and the body will remain healthy and strong free of diseases. Even if something goes wrong, you will not try to change the superficial effects. You will rather change a deeper level reality by which superficial changes will automatically occur. Just like we say that if you have a peaceful mind, then lots of diseases are never created, and even if they are created you can heal much better if you are not stressed. So, if you just talk to a person who is peaceful and calm, you suddenly feel calm, stronger, and healthier. The energy spent in this talking is small compared to the energy spent on creating medicines. But in modern science, we don’t understand how deep level changes can bring about superficial changes. We think that if someone is sick they must be given medicines instead of changing a deeper level reality.
So, today’s science is based on linearity – i.e. to create big changes, we have to invest big effort. But a new science will be non-linear, small efforts can bring about a big change. And this technology will be based on the understanding that matter is organized hierarchically. So, you change the seed to create a new tree. The cause and effect in this type of science is very unintuitive if we look at the world only as sensations. To someone who doesn’t understand hierarchy, this thing will seem to be pseudoscience and mumbo-jumbo. But this science involves being able to control nature at a deeper level.
The other important thing we have to understand is that the material qualities of things don’t automatically determine their behavior. For example, just because something is big and heavy doesn’t mean it has to fall toward the earth. These qualities are just abilities so we can say that there is a tendency for things to fall if the right relationship is established and there is the will to use the ability. So, things are falling toward the earth, not because of a force called gravity. Even in the case of falling objects, there is a property in matter then a relationship between earth and that object is created, and finally a will to use that property must be applied. So, if we change the relationship between the earth and the falling object, then the object doesn’t have to fall; it can also float in space.
So, there will be a science that manipulates matter based on deeper levels of reality, and then a science that manipulates matter by changing the relationships between things. We are not able to perceive these relationships, but they are called “fields” in science, and we think that these fields are fixed. But these are not fixed. Just like somebody acquires a powerful position in society and then other people will not trouble him anymore. In fact, because of their powerful position, things become easy for them. Just by asking for something they can automatically get it from others when previously they would have had to spend an enormous amount of energy to get something done. So, the change in relationship is also a type of non-linearity. From some position, something is easier, and from another position, something is very hard. Nature is not uniform. Rather by changing our position we can change the effects.
So, what we call the field in science is a relational position to other things, and there is a hierarchy here too. So, some things are lower in the hierarchy and they come under the control of things higher up in the hierarchy. But we can take these things out of the hierarchy or change their position in the hierarchy. Once this change has occurred, new effects are automatically created even though materially the body looks the same. What seemed like a very hard thing earlier suddenly becomes very easy now. So, the causality is not just in the material objects. It is also in their relation to other things.
With Great Power Comes Greater Responsibility
So you are saying that an alternative science can create an alternative technology that is far superior to the technology available to people in modern times through science?
Yes, it can create. But our goal is not to talk about this technology because knowledge and power of the material energy can corrupt people. To handle great power, moral and spiritual advancement is needed because the consequences of misuse of that power are severe. Therefore, before we develop the technology we have to establish the moral science of action and consequence.
If we don’t have a moral science, and we describe a science of how to obtain more power, the results will be disastrous. The technology that people are fascinated by today is insignificant compared to the technology that is possible with the science of meanings and relations. But that technology cannot be presented immediately. We have to first present the science of moral consequences.
Therefore, our focus is not on the alternative technology to impress people and establish the credibility of such ideas. Yes, people in modern times are dazzled by technological progress and if such progress were possible everyone would immediately be attracted to these alternative ideas. But all those people who are attracted to such ideas would also be highly prone to misusing the power. Power should go only into the hands of people who are already responsible. Thus, in Vedic times this knowledge was taught only to a few whose character was impeccable, and it wasn’t common knowledge.
Therefore, even though great technology is possible with this knowledge, we are focused on the spiritual aspect of this technology rather than its material counterparts. The spiritual component of this technology is that with meaning we get judgments – of truth, right, and good. The judgment of right creates moral consequences, and the judgment of good delivers happiness or suffering in return for those moral consequences. So, if we deliver technological progress but we don’t teach how moral consequences are created from actions, and how you cannot be happy despite technological advancement if you don’t follow the moral laws of nature, then this technology is dangerous.
I have thus focused on that bigger problem of truth, right, and good, rather than the focused problem of truth which can lead to an alternative technology. Even in the Vedic texts, it is said that by possessing the knowledge of matter, people are entangled in the material enjoyment and forget about the higher purpose of existence which is transcendence. Our goal is to emphasize transcendence and keep the description of material power subordinated. Once we have a good understanding of the broader science, then the science that gives the technology also tells people about the consequences of its use and misuse. We cannot separate technology from morality, which is important in the longer run.