Table of Contents
- 1 Analytic vs. Synthetic Mythologies
- 2 The Genesis of Synthetic Mythology
- 3 The Construction of Synthetic Mythologies
- 4 Academic Weaponization of Mythology
- 5 The Problems of Scholastic Efforts
- 6 Science Inherited Scholastic Tendencies
- 7 The Adoption of Universalism
- 8 The Hierarchy of True Theories
- 9 Mythology Creates Violent Individuals
- 10 False Interpretation vs. True Assessment
- 11 The Necessity of Perceptual Capacity
- 12 Mythology is Created By Blind Speculation
- 13 The Process of Escape from Mythology
- 14 The Six-Fold Ladder of Yoga Practice
Analytic vs. Synthetic Mythologies
Mythology means the science of lies. It can have two further flavors—Analytic and Synthetic. Analytic mythology is the scientific study of how rational arguments are used to justify lies. Since most people like rationality, they can be fooled into thinking that because it seems rational therefore it must be true. Synthetic mythology is the practice of creating ingenuous rational arguments for justifying lies and fooling people. It relies on the creative ingenuity of liars to produce believable rational arguments to justify falsehoods.
Mythology relies on the principle of underdetermination of theory by observation. For example, suppose you stand at a train station and collect data about arriving and departing trains. You can tabulate the arrival and departure times and summarize them using a formula that correctly predicts the train arrival and departure times. You can call this mathematical formula the “law of moving trains” and claim that the trains are moving according to this law and the variables in the mathematical equation are the true causes. Thereby, there are no train drivers, station masters, or government to keep running trains on time.
The classic symptom of a synthetic mythology is that it looks perfectly rational on paper but it is utterly false in reality. As time passes, the paper rationality is falsified by empirical facts. Analytic mythology then analyzes how crooked rational arguments were used to justify lies. Synthetic mythology meanwhile gets busy creating a new set of crooked rational arguments to justify the same or different lies.
Truth and myth can both be rational because theory is underdetermined by observation. Both truth and myth can be empirically verified and rationally argued. The myth is false simply because the rational argument uses false assumptions. For example, a false assumption in the case of a “law of moving trains” is that the world is moving according to mathematical laws rather than persons moving the world.
To know that the myth is false, one has to extend the axioms to the broader phenomena. For example, we can ask: Do cars move according to the same law as trains? In fact, do trains always move lawfully? The myth collapses when its axioms are extended to broader reality but the truth is strengthened when its axioms are extended to broader reality. The myth is therefore falsifiable and the truth is verifiable. But since people keep creating myths without extensively checking if they apply to the broader reality, therefore, mythology is the scientific study of how rational arguments are created to justify lies.
The Genesis of Synthetic Mythology
Synthetic mythology was born after the European Crusades between 1096 and 1291 to wrest control of conquered parts of Europe from Islamic rule. Islam, born in 610 from the teachings of Muhammad at the age of 40, had rapidly expanded from its places of origin in Mecca and Medina to cover large parts of Western Asia, Northern Africa, and parts of Europe such as Spain and Portugal. The Crusades brought Europe back to Christianity by force, but they quickly discovered a problem they had not foreseen.
During its reign, Islam had integrated mathematics from India and the works of Aristotle and Euclid from ancient Greece with its own religious doctrines to create Islamic philosophy. Due to this integration, Islam portrayed itself as a scientific society. Meanwhile, Europeans had forgotten Greek philosophy after the collapse of the Roman Empire in 476 and they did not know of the existence of mathematics.
Through the Crusades, Europeans rediscovered the works of Greek philosophers such as Aristotle, Plato, and Socrates, and newly discovered the numeral system that Arabs had received from India and started calling them “Arabic Numerals”. They translated Islamic philosophical works into European languages and realized that even as the Crusades brought Europe back to Christianity, the conquest was temporary because Christianity was still a primitive system compared to Islam. Unless Christianity was transformed using philosophy and mathematics in the way that Islam had integrated philosophy and mathematics previously, forced conversions of Muslims to Christians would not last. The victory of Christianity over Islam could be easily overturned without a synthesis of science, philosophy, and religion. This intellectual synthesis was the challenge before Christians to thwart yet another Islamic conquest of Europe.
The Construction of Synthetic Mythologies
To meet this challenge, the Church created academic institutions tasked with the job of transforming Christianity into an intellectual force comparable to Islam. Nobody tells you today that the sole purpose of these academic institutions was to bring Christianity on par with Islam because it is very embarrassing to Christians. After separating the birth of academics from the discoveries made during the Crusades, Christians talk about how the Church led intellectual efforts in Europe, failing to note that it was due to the threat posed by Islam.
Christianity took Greek works as templates for their intellectual efforts. For example, when Plato talked about a world of pure forms, he meant the world of Greek gods. Christianity transformed this Platonic world of pure forms into a monotheistic heaven. Christians took the Socratic template of questions and answers to construct rational arguments for Christianity. They employed Aristotelian syllogisms to construct rational proofs of their theology. The demand for a rational foundation of Christianity thus led to, in the 13th century, the birth of a medieval intellectual and academic movement in Europe.
Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) was one of the earliest pioneers in this endeavor as he set about trying to produce an encyclopedic synthesis of all forms of knowledge. The marriage of religion, science, and philosophy wasn’t easy. Thomist proposals often clashed with the teachings of the Church. But the Church did not have a choice because secular subjects like philosophy and mathematics were rising in popularity and these alternative sources of knowledge challenged the Church’s monopoly on truth. Unless the Church integrated the ideas of religion, philosophy, and science like Islam, Christianity ran the risk of being replaced by Islam. Hence the Church reluctantly canonized the work of Thomas Aquinas as an official Catholic doctrine in 1323. Europe was by now undergoing the Renaissance, or the “revival” of the Greco-Roman cultures, that had been forgotten after the fall of the Roman Empire.
Academic Weaponization of Mythology
Of course, even as they were using Arabic and Greek systems of philosophy and mathematics as their foundation, Christians wanted to portray themselves to be superior to both these systems. Therefore, they called the Greek synthesis of mathematics, philosophy, pagan religions “Mythology”, and their new efforts to synthesize mathematics, philosophy, and Christianity “Scholastics”. The latter is also called Apologetics and Medieval Philosophy today. The term Mythology originated in the 1400s as a derogatory reference to the study of Greek and Roman pagan religions and was later extended to all non-monotheistic religions, including those of India.
The fact is that Christians were themselves constructing a mythology in the name of Scholastics. It seemed rational on paper but was utterly false in reality. I will discuss some of the problems of this mythology shortly and show how it survives only because its claims haven’t been put to adequate tests. Nevertheless, since that time, Western academics have loved to call their mythology philosophy, science, and religion, while they designate the philosophy, religion, and science of others as mythology.
The religious works of Islam and Christianity are called Islamic and Christian Philosophy, and not Islamic or Christian Mythology. But the religious works of Greeks and Indians are called Greek and Indian Mythology, and not Greek or Indian Philosophy. This notwithstanding the fact that Greeks and Indians gave Arabs and Europeans philosophy and mathematics. Abrahamic faiths took philosophy and mathematics from Greeks and Indians to create their religious mythologies and then weaponized what they took against their sources.
The Problems of Scholastic Efforts
The work of Thomas Aquinas has been called “Baptizing Aristotle” because he tried to synthesize two disparate systems originating in Athens and Jerusalem. This was far from the ideal scenario. Ideally, one could start with religion and derive secular subjects like mathematics and philosophy from it. Alternately, one could start with secular subjects such as mathematics and philosophy and derive religion from it. Medieval philosophy did neither. It tried to reconcile secular and religious subjects because it was following the template of intellectual discourse that had previously been set into motion by Islam.
The synthesis of science and religion required serious limitations on religion. For example, Aquinas famously noted things that even an omnipotent God could not do—(a) He could not replicate Himself as that would mean more than one God, (b) He could not change the sum of angles of a triangle to anything other than 1800, (c) He could not undo the events that had already occurred in the past. This was in seeming contradiction to “For with God nothing will be impossible” (Luke 1:37), so Aquinas explained it by saying that “possibility” is defined by the constraints of rationality and the irrational is impossible.
But what is rationality, other than conclusions derived from arbitrarily chosen axioms? Where is the necessity in the axioms from which conclusions are derived in Aristotelian syllogisms? For example, the sum of angles of a triangle is 1800 for a flat geometry. However, the angles add up to less than 1800 for concave surfaces and more than 1800 for convex surfaces. Who is to say that geometry must be flat? Isn’t that merely an assumption of Euclidean geometry whose violation is not outside the realm of possibility?
Similarly, all ideas exist in many places—e.g., the idea of a table exists in many minds. What is that idea in our mind other than a copy of the original? If we can know God, then God would have to be copied into our minds. Then, God would be in heaven and in our minds simultaneously. The only alternative is that God is just in heaven and nobody can know Him, because knowing itself requires copying. Even books about God cannot exist without copying because God has to be copied for a book to picture Him.
Finally, what is the past, other than the collective memory of the past? If I forget about my past then the past ceases to have an effect on me. If everyone forgot about the past—or rewrote the actual history of the past which happens all the time—then how does the past remain unchanged when the past has factually ceased to exist and the records of the past have been wiped out from the collective memory? To say that it is impossible for God to change the past is to say that He cannot change His recollection. Thus, what happens all the time for everyone is impossible for God to do. God is less than humans.
The result of the Thomist “synthesis” of science and religion was limitations on the religious idea of God because science was an external constraint on God—taken from Islamic and Greek sources. Science was not derived from the nature of God, nor was God derived from the nature of science. Two independent sets of claims were being reconciled by fiat ignoring their irreconcilable differences. In trying to do the impossible, the Scholastics constructed many arguments that were seemingly rational on paper but utterly false in reality. The method of arguing rationally got entrenched without producing any truth.
Science Inherited Scholastic Tendencies
Modern science is scarcely better than scholastics. While the claims of the scriptures have been replaced by empirical data, the tendency to make arbitrary postulates to explain that data has continued. Each postulate universalizes what seems obvious within a limited domain of experience but it is not true in general. For example, the postulates of Euclidean geometry were considered universal truths in physics until the theory of general relativity necessitated non-Euclidean geometry. Within the smaller domain of near-Earth observations, the sum of all angles of a triangle seemed 1800 but within the bigger domain of far-from-Earth observations, the sum of all angles of a triangle could be more or less than 1800.
This is a remarkable precedent for understanding the problem of formulating axioms in science. Given some observations, one set of axioms works fine. But that axiom set fails for another set of observations. We cannot change the axioms for the second set without changing them for the first set too. Hence, as we find new observations, we have to keep revising axioms—under the assumption that one set of axioms works for every observation—until we find two sets of observations that require contradictory axioms.
The whole of science is now in the grips of this problem because contradictory assumptions are required to explain different phenomena. For example, classical mechanics requires us to say that each system is in a definite state but statistical mechanics requires us to say that each system is in all the possible states. The system is reversible in classical mechanics but irreversible in statistical mechanics. Similarly, quantum theory says that matter is discrete and space-time is continuous but relativity theory says that space-time is also matter which means that it must be discrete and not continuous. If space and time are discretized then the foundation of modern science—i.e., calculus—would collapse because calculus requires the continuity and smoothness of space and time for computing differentials and integrals.
The Adoption of Universalism
In Vedic philosophy, different kinds of bodies are produced from different kinds of minds. Different kinds of minds are produced from different kinds of cultures. Different kinds of cultures are produced from different kinds of planets in the universe. And different kinds of universes are produced from matter based on the desires of the soul. Matter is all the varied types of universes, which produce varied types of planets, which produce varied types of cultures, which produce varied types of minds, which then produce varied types of bodies.
Our theories are products of the study of limited parts of the body produced by one of the limited minds, produced within a limited culture, planet, and universe. To the extent that these theories are useful to explain and predict limited parts of the body, the theories are extremely limited if we try to expand their scope to all the parts of the body, the various types of bodies, minds, cultures, planets, and universes. The person who assumes that this limited theory of one part of the body will apply to the rest of the parts, bodies, minds, cultures, planets, and universes is grossly mistaken. He is the proverbial frog in the well who imagines that bigger and bigger oceans must be just like a well.
Western thinking under Greek influences has always been universalism based on the study of limited parts of a body. It tries to model some limited part of one body and tries to extend it to all parts of the body, various bodies, minds, cultures, planets, and universes. At each successive level, Western thinking becomes the worldview of a frog trying to imagine that larger and larger oceans are just like its limited conceptions of the well.
The universalist modeling of reality used by Greeks, Muslims, and Christians is nothing more than mythology. As the flaws of this mythology are discovered, the universalist modeling invents more and more universalist models which are contradictory to the previous models. Over time, universalism accumulates a very large number of contradictory models, is unable to resolve their contradictions, is stagnated by the arguments between vociferous proponents of these models, and ultimately becomes nihilistic to say that there cannot be any truth.
The Hierarchy of True Theories
To get back to a universal theory, we have to look into the foundations of conscious experience because they span numerous universes, planets, cultures, minds, bodies, and body parts. The universal theory that begins with body parts is infinitely wrong and the theory that begins with conscious experience is universally true. Greek, Islamic, and Christian mythologies have never begun from the study of conscious experience. In fact, they look down upon consciousness as the antithesis of objective truth that must be methodologically excluded from scientific inquiry. By slamming the doors on the only road to universal truth, Greek, Islamic, and Christian thinking whiles away its time in mythologies. The hallmark of these mythologies is that they look perfectly rational on paper but are utterly false in reality.
The theory of consciousness is the mother of all theories that explain and predict subsets of conscious experiences. The theories that explain such subsets are like the daughter, granddaughter, and great-granddaughter of the mother. We don’t say that the great-granddaughter is false nor do we say that the mother is the only truth. The binary true-false conceptions don’t apply when we think of a universal theory of consciousness. We have to instead think in terms of better and worse truths, higher and lower truths, or superior and inferior truths.
The children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of the mother have numerous mutually contradictory traits. Due to those contradictions, they are not capable of explaining their parents or siblings. They can just explain their children. Even then, their children often inherit the traits of their parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. We can never resolve the mystery of how a child gets the traits that the parents did not have, nor can we explain the contradictions between many children, unless we draw the complete family tree.
Mythology Creates Violent Individuals
Mythology is produced when someone tries to reduce the family tree to one member of the family. Since the family tree is infinite, therefore, the mythologies that reduce it to one member are also infinite. The truth is one family tree. The myths are infinite individual family members pretending that the others don’t exist or hoping that they would just die. Those who can see the family tree are enlightened and create unity. Those who see individual family members and hope that the others don’t exist or should die remain deluded and create violence.
Just as siblings fight with each other and the parents establish peace, similarly, unity among contradictory claims is possible if contradictory claims are derived from a fundamental claim. Without the parent, conflict between the siblings is the norm rather than the exception.
These contradictions between opposites are called duality in Vedic philosophy. The world is made up of opposites. But these opposites need not be enemies. They coexist peacefully if they are used for different purposes. There is room in the world for smooth silk and sharp knives if they are used for different times, places, situations, and persons with different natures. This is called contextual truth in contrast to universal truth. The mother is the universal truth but the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren are contextual truths.
Those who deny the universal truth of the mother and those who try to transform children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren into universal truths produce mythologies. The West has created thousands of ideologies, calling them universal truths, which are all myths because they are at best child, grandchild, and great-grandchild ideologies rather than the original parent ideology. Those who got tired of the history of myth-making concluded that there is no mother and orphaned the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
The world of orphan ideologies is not unity. It is also in conflict with itself. The conflict of universalism is one child trying to kill all its siblings, parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. The conflict of individualism is no child being able to admit any parent, grandparent, or great-grandparent to resolve the conflict with other children. Violence between large groups is not better or worse than violence between small groups and individuals. It is simply a different kind of violence. Mythology always results in violence.
False Interpretation vs. True Assessment
A cheater thinks that an honest man is a cheater, applies his cheating lenses to interpret the honest man’s actions, and fails to correctly predict his actions. An honest man thinks that a cheater is honest, applies his honest lenses to interpret the cheater’s actions, and fails to correctly predict his actions. This problem is called ātmavan manyate jagat which means “one sees the world just as he is”. We can call it the problem of interpretation using one’s nature being universalized to the whole of reality. Nearly all such interpretations are false.
The solution to this problem is that each child must look at their siblings through the eyes of their parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, all the way to the original parent. When higher-level visions are incorporated into assessment, then unity is produced. Without this hierarchy, there is a conflict between the children. The incorporation of higher-level visions is called seeing with the eyes of knowledge. The knowledge here is the vision of the parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, all the way to the original parent.
Sāñkhya philosophy divides the mind into three features: thinking, feeling, and judging. The thinking capacity of the mind is interpretation. The feeling capacity of the mind is its ability to perceive the true nature of reality. Finally, the judging capacity of the mind is divided into the intellect, ego, and moral sense which respectively judge if the perceived nature is true, right, and good based on the above hierarchy of visions. If the mind can think, but cannot perceive, or cannot judge based on hierarchical truth, right, and good, then the conclusion is false.
Therefore, if the thinking alone is active, but the perceiving is not, or the judgment is flawed, then each person would interpret the reality according to their nature—e.g., the cheater will think that the honest are cheaters and the honest will think that the cheaters are honest. Mental interpretation followed by applying one’s own tendencies to the world would result in mythologies.
The Necessity of Perceptual Capacity
The perceiving or feeling capacity of the mind is developed by the practice of Yoga when the mind is purified of its predispositions and can see the reality just as it is. A contaminated mind is predisposed and its perception is flawed. A purified mind is one that has removed these predispositions and its perception is reality. Thus, by the practice of Yoga, the mind becomes the sixth sense apart from the senses of hearing, touching, seeing, tasting, and smelling. It can see what lies behind the sense perceptions. If one’s intellect, ego, and moral sense are further aligned with the parental hierarchy of judgments, then one can also judge if the perceived reality is true, good, and right.
Without the purification of the mind, a person interprets the world based on his predispositions. Such interpretations are mostly false, and they are falsified through observations. Similarly, without the alignment of intellect, ego, and moral sense with the parental hierarchy, a person judges based on his personal beliefs, interests, and values. Such judgments are mostly false, wrong, and bad and they cannot be used to correct the false, wrong, and bad. When people create theories without purifying their minds of predispositions, they create mythologies. When these mythologies are discordant with the parental hierarchy, they lead a person to false, wrong, and bad judgments.
A myth can seem perfectly rational because it uses axioms and logic. But it can be utterly false if the axioms are not the true nature of reality. Rationality may produce complicated theories and arguments that have no relation to reality. Following these theories doesn’t lead one to the truth, right, and good. People get lost in these theories because they have prioritized rationality over the purification of the mind and alignment with the parental hierarchy. When they find contradictions in their theories, they try to modify the axioms to make their theory fit the observations. However, they are always misdirected toward the false, wrong, and bad due to their unclean predispositions.
The Vedic system of knowledge therefore always called knowledge darśan, which means vision. Even as this knowledge was imparted through books, it had to be verified by the development of the mental capacity to perceive. We can establish that darśan is never contradicted by sense observation and contrast it to mythology which is frequently contradicted by observation. Since darśan sees the entire parental hierarchy, therefore, it judges the correct perception correctly. Thereby, we can never falsify darśan. Instead, by developing our perception, we can verify darśan. The teacher of darśan always teaches a student how to falsify the mythologies and verify the darśan. The mythology can be falsified by observation and reasoning. However, each student has to develop the perception to verify what is said in the darśan.
Mythology is Created By Blind Speculation
This system of falsifying the mythology by data and verifying the knowledge by mental perception has been neglected by Western epistemology that relies on many false claims: (a) the same set of axioms apply to all of reality, (b) each person is free to speculate on the nature of axioms, and (c) he is only required to establish that his axioms work by selecting the data where the axioms are verified.
This system of knowledge is comprehensively refuted when contradictory axioms are required to explain different observations. The Western system of epistemology “solves” this problem by dividing knowledge into a growing number of subjects and theories that employ contradictory axioms. As time passes, the number of subjects increases along with the number of contradictions within and between them.
The academic system used by Greeks, Muslims, and Christians is devoid of mental perception. There is no process by which we can know which claims are true in which case or the hierarchy of truths in which the lower truth is judged by the higher truth. Hence, the whole academic system is mythology—the science of creating rational but false explanations of observations. Of course, in the case of religious myths, even the observations are absent. But in the case of scientific myths, where the observations are present, the seemingly rational explanations are false due to the absence of perception. And yet, people have gotten so accustomed to universalizing their ideas about themselves to the whole universe that they think that there is no other way to know the truth. They have elevated mythology to knowledge.
The Process of Escape from Mythology
There are two paths given in Vedic texts as escapes from this mythology. First, we can look at the cases where these myths fail or contradict the sense-perceivable observations. Second, we can develop mental perception to see the reality. The former is called jñāna-yoga and the latter is called aśtānga-yoga.
Under jñāna-yoga, we carry out an expansive analysis of our assumptions, specifically looking for those areas where the axioms fail. The division of knowledge into many contradictory subjects is not permitted under jñāna-yoga. The goal is that universal understanding that can be extended to everything in reality. That universal understanding involves understanding that the body is produced successively from the mind, culture, planet, and universe, and the process of this expansion accommodates infinite variety.
Under aśtānga-yoga, we verify the knowledge obtained by jñāna-yoga by developing mental perception. If jñāna-yoga is rationalism then aśtānga-yoga is empiricism. However, it is not the empiricism of sense perception. It is rather the empiricism of mental perception. The mind must be developed to obtain the capacity to perceive what the senses cannot. Under jñāna-yoga, we convince ourselves that nothing else can be the truth. Under aśtānga-yoga, we convince ourselves that this is the truth.
The Six-Fold Ladder of Yoga Practice
Once these two processes have been completed, there is also the process of karma-yoga in which one acts according to the previously obtained rational and empirical knowledge in day-to-day life and obtains perfect happiness, satisfaction, and enlightenment. Thus, when the theoretical analysis ends, the empirical verification begins. When the empirical verification ends, then the practical application of the knowledge begins. When the practical application ends, the person attains perfection in life.
There are three further steps in this path toward increasing perfection, which are collectively noted as a ladder of six rungs of yoga in which the higher rung includes the lower rungs. Those who cannot follow the higher rungs are advised to follow the lower rungs. Jñāna-yoga is the lowest of the six rungs. Since there is nothing lower than this, therefore, everyone should try to perfect their theoretical knowledge even if they are practicing the higher rungs (because the higher rung includes the lower rungs).
Anyone who neglects this six-fold path of upliftment does so to his detriment. The result of such neglect is that one remains stagnated on the ladder—unprepared to go to the lower rung and unable to rise to the higher rung. Over time, the stagnated person gets frustrated and abandons all six paths.
Stagnated and frustrated vagrants are all around us as a result of neglecting the ladder. They disregarded the six-fold path of upliftment, pretended to have risen to a higher level, didn’t have the benefits of lower rungs, and could not move upward to the higher rungs. They can try to understand this six-fold path and attempt to rise or they will simply be stagnated and frustrated vagrants. Their conclusion will be that yoga is just another mythology like the speculative and falsifiable mythologies of Greeks, Muslims, and Christians.