Ruminations on Vedic Philosophy

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When Are Abortions Acceptable?

A US Supreme Court ruling recently overturned abortion as a fundamental right and it has brought the issue of abortion to the forefront. In this post, I will discuss the problems with rights and freedoms, why they can never form a coherent legal doctrine, and how society is lost in ...
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Why the Material World is Called an Illusion

Imagine that you are sitting inside a room. You will likely say that there is a space, inside which there is a planet, in which there is a country, inside which there is a city, inside which there is a house, inside which there is a room, inside which the ...
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The Personification of Knowledge

Modern logic is defined by three principles—identity (A is A), non-contradiction (it cannot be both and A and not-A), and mutual exclusion (it cannot be neither A and not-A). In Vedic philosophy, we will call this a dualistic logic in the sense that the categories neither and both are logically ...
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The Psychology of Fonts

Aristotle divided all Platonic forms into two classes—theoretical and practical. The theoretical forms could be quantified by converting them into geometry, essentially reducing them to shape. The practical forms, such as beauty, justice, and truth, could not be so converted and had to be decided by people’s intuition, opinions, or ...
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The Modal Conception of Reality

Epistemology in the West is defined as the “theory of knowledge”, especially with regard to the methods of knowing and questions about whether these methods deliver truth. However, owing to numerous dualisms in Western philosophy, including the strict separation between the observer and the observed, it has never been clear ...
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What is a Machine?

A few articles ago, I discussed the nature of Personhood as six traits—self-awareness, intention, emotion, cognition, conation, and relation. Then we discussed Personalism vs. Depersonalization: A person is governed by free will and the depersonalized is governed by laws. As a follow-up, in this article, I will discuss what I ...
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So, You Are Saying …

I have many amusing and yet frustrating exchanges where people tell me: So, you are saying <something which I never said>. Then I refute that claim and clarify it. But then I get even more amusing and frustrating answers: So, you are saying <some new concoction which I never said> ...
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Differences Between Western and Eastern Personalism, Impersonalism, Voidism, and Materialism

Śrila Prabhupāda’s Praṇām Mantra describes the Western world as nirviśeśa and sūnyavāda, which are translated as impersonalism and voidism. This has always perplexed me because the West sees itself rooted in Christian theistic Personalism. In what sense can a society based on theistic Personalism be called impersonalism or voidism? The ...
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What is a Person?

In the last article, we briefly discussed the personhood of God and soul, and this one elaborates on that discussion. In modern societies, a person is defined as something that has rights. For example, forests, rivers, mountains, animals, and oceans are not considered persons and hence not given rights. Conversely, ...
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The Origins of Evil

The problem of evil has two distinct flavors. The first flavor says: There is famine, war, pestilence, and disease in this world and since God created an evil world, therefore, He must be evil. The second flavor says: So much suffering is caused by evil people, and since God created ...
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Nature is Governed by Persons Not Laws

A law is defined as things that could or could not happen, should or should not happen, and would or would not happen. The limitation of could and could not depends on a person’s ability; a more capable person can do more things and a less capable person cannot do ...
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Why Metaphysics is Pointless

Western philosophy has a famed distinction between appearance and reality. This distinction began with the idea that appearances are outward projection, while reality is the thing in itself. For example, consider a cheater, who talks suavely and pretends to have your best interests at heart, but in fact, he is ...
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There is No Answer to Bad Questions

There is a widespread myth that all questions must be answered. Practical experience, however, shows that most questions go unanswered. Then the cynic says: Truth cannot be known. In this post, I will analyze this myth, to update it to something precise: All good questions can be answered and there ...
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Why the West Rules the World—For Now

I recently came across a book with the same title as this post, by a British historian Ian Morris, that tells an obscurantist history of the West, attributing its successes to geography. There have been similar books (e.g., Collapse by Jared Diamond) that attribute the rise and fall of empires ...
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The Solution to the Problems of Democracy and Autocracy

Democracy is defined as the government of the people, by the people, and for the people. In practice, however, all three conditions are seldom satisfied. Many democratic governments at present are of the people, but by the corporations and for the corporations. Some puppet governments are of the people but ...
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How to Debate an Impersonalist?

In a recent conversation, many good questions about the problems of Advaita Impersonalism arose, which we could not cover during the conversation itself. This post tries to respond to these questions. For those who might be unaware, Advaita Impersonalism can be summarized into four claims: (a) Brahman is real or ...
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How To Debate a Skeptic?

The following is an expanded version of the response I sent to someone after watching his debate with a Skeptic/Atheist. I had posted a critique of his approach on that video, which I have since deleted because I don’t want to be polemical about the efforts of people trying to ...
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The Principle of Underdetermination

I’m literally exhausted by the number of people who claim that the mind is the brain, based on the neuroscientific experiments, in which injecting electrical signals into the brain results in novel experiences. These claims arise due to the stark mind-body duality created by Descartes that was readily embraced by ...
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How Two Thousand Years of History Impedes Varṇāśrama

The Varṇāśrama system is divided into four classes—Brahmana (priests), Kshatriya (rulers and warriors), Vaisya (farmers and businessmen), and Sudra (workers). If these classes follow their prescribed duties and are not misguided by greed, lust, and envy, then society is free of class clashes. If, however, people in these classes neglect ...
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Consciousness Expands by Concentration

The physical dogma about the world is that as you look deeper inside things, you get to know smaller and smaller parts of the world. As a result, by looking deeper, you lose the big picture. Thereby, there is a contradiction between depth and breadth. You can be a jack ...
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How Quantity Science Emerged from Quality Science

Even as I often criticize quantity thinking, I don’t mean to say that it is completely useless. Many quantitative truths are pervasively true. 2 + 2 = 4 in all situations, for example. This truth can be used for practical purposes like counting the number of people, animals, and houses ...
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Quantity and Quality Notions of Truth

What is truth? Some people say that truth means existence. If a tree exists, then it is true. But it also means that if you think that the tree doesn’t exist, that thought is also true, because your thought exists. To allow for the distinction between truth and existence, we ...
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Matter is Not Insentient

It is well-known that the material energy is personified in Vedic texts as Durga. And yet, starting with Advaita, the Vedānta doctrines have designated matter as achit—inert, inanimate, or insentient. Descartes, of course, designated matter as being distinct from the mind in his famous mind-body dualism. Christian theologians have also ...
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Why Diets and Exercises Don’t Always Work

There was a time when I used to eat a lot—up to four times a day. And yet I was very thin. Then came a time when I did not increase my food intake, and yet I gained a lot of weight. Similarly, there have been times when I ate ...
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Objections Against My Vedānta Sūtra Commentary

There are occasional rumblings against my Vedānta Sūtra commentary entitled Conceiving the Inconceivable: A Scientific Commentary on Vedānta Sūtras. I understand that many people come to religion with a sense of finality: Worldly knowledge changes, but spiritual knowledge is eternal. In their view, a new commentary breaks that finality. They ...
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Shame and Shyness

God is the greatest, but it is not easy to live in the presence of greatness. When we encounter greatness, there are many different types of responses we can have. Those responses to greatness are also our responses to God. This post discusses how our acceptance of greatness, ability to ...
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What is Sustainable Economic Growth?

Economics has an unknown enemy in the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which says that entropy (disorder) cannot decrease in a physical process. If the net disorder is increasing, then how can there be net growth in wealth? Net growth in wealth is possible only with a net increase in order ...
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Scientific Pretensions of Evolutionary Theory

There is a difference between evolution and the theory of evolution. It’s the same difference as that between planetary motion and Newton’s theory of planetary motion. This distinction appears as that between facts and truths. They are not the same thing. Evolution is a fact, but the theory of evolution ...
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What is the Dunning-Kruger Effect?

The Dunning-Kruger effect is defined as the tendency in people with low abilities to be highly confident (to the point of arrogance) while people with high abilities to have low confidence (to the point of self-doubt). This post discusses how this effect results from the interaction between the dominant majority ...
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Three Opposites Instead of Two

One of the key differences between quality and quantity thinking is that quality thinking breaks ordinary logic. In ordinary logic, there are always two opposites. Only one of these could be true, and one of them must be true. The former condition forbids both opposites from being true, and the ...
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The Varṇāśrama Skill Ladder

The Varṇāśrama system of the division of society into four classes is based on a skill ladder. It progresses in skill from the understanding of inanimate objects (sudra), to the understanding of non-human living entities like trees, plants, crops, and domestic animals (vaisya), to the understanding of humans in order ...
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Material vs. Spiritual Realism

In the last post, I described the sense in which Vedic philosophy is realist—a soul moves in a space of meaning-states called childhood, youth, and old age (higher) and hungry, thirsty, lusty (lower). All these states are fixed and eternal, but the soul’s connection to these states is temporary. Western ...
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The Soul is Moving and the Body is Not Moving

The first important thing we learn from Bhagavad-Gita 2.13 is that “just as the soul passes from childhood, to youth, to old age, in the same way, the soul passes to a new body at the time of death”. Most people take this to mean that after death there will ...
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Is Contextualization of Eternal Principles Pragmatism?

In the Vedic system, the eternal spiritual principles are often contextualized according to time, place, situation, and the people involved to assist their realization. This contextualization is often mischaracterized as pragmatism where the potential for successes (measured by the number of people who start following such contextualized principles) seems to ...
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The Self as the Basis for Science

For several years now, I have been describing a semantic conception of reality in which all reality is like a book, comprising symbols of meaning. The book expands out of an idea, and the individuality of the idea divides into the individuality of chapters, paragraphs, sentences, words, and phonemes. Once ...
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How Descartes Created Science from Religion

It is commonly believed that Descartes was the first modern philosopher, but the fact is that philosophy was an afterthought for Descartes. His initial work was on analytical geometry, which created a relation between geometry and algebra through the use of a coordinate system. Descartes intended to construct a “physics” ...
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Why AI is Deficient and Yet It Seems Very Powerful

In the last post, I discussed the implementation of AI and its use for controlling markets, governments, and people. In this post, I will do the opposite: Talk about why AI is deficient. To reconcile these two seemingly contradictory positions, we will then discuss how AI becomes powerful if society ...
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Artificial Intelligence and the Death of the Free Market

In classical economic theories, the “market” is an abstract entity, used by everyone, but owned by no one. It could be regulated by a government by enacting the rules and regulations of market transactions, but even the government did not own the market (unless it was the sole producer and ...
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The Crisis of Capitalism and Its Remedies

Many people realize at present that there are problems with capitalism, but opinion is divided on what should be done about it. This post explores the alternatives to capitalism and their problems. The reality is that there are no provably stable economic models today. Centuries of economic studies have failed ...
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Is Hinduism Just a Way of Life?

There is a popular but false dogma about Hinduism, that it is not a religion, but only a way of life. This dogma is misleading and toxic at many levels, and this post tries to uncover and examine the many flaws of this idea ...
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Dharma vs. Law

Modern society is based upon the idea of “laws”. These laws exist in religions, social organizations, and sciences, and they are considered “universal”. For instance, the laws of a nation apply to all citizens of a nation. The laws of a religious institution or business apply to all the members ...
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Who Can Be Guru?

Much discussion occurs on the internet about “guru-tattva”. I have watched these discussions for years but refrained from participation because I find these discussions don't understand or appreciate the true nature of hierarchy; most of these discussions think of a guru system as a linear succession of gurus. This post ...
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Understanding Satkāryavāda: Correlation vs. Causation

If you put your hand in the fire, it will be burnt. Science will say: Fire is energy; when you bring your hand in contact with fire, then energy is transferred to your hand, and that causes the burn. Likewise, if you jump off a cliff, you will die. Science ...
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Why Religion is Incompatible with Modern Science

There are many common characterizations of science and religion that claim an incompatibility between the two, but upon closer examination, all these characterizations can be shown to be false. That doesn't mean that science and religion are similar or identical; they are indeed incompatible, just not in the way their ...
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How to Spot a Narcissist

My life has been uniquely blessed by the sheer number of narcissists that have entered into it. A narcissist destroys your self-esteem and manipulates you emotionally. If you feel strong, their first tactic is to make you feel weak. Under that weakness, they have a greater chance to gain control ...
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The Cycle of History

The Vedic tradition has always had a very weak interest in chronological history. Vedic texts only record the important events—e.g., those about the incarnations of God on earth, or those of great devotees of God, who then spread devotion to God all over the earth. Everything else in history is ...
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The Depth and Breadth of Disease

Ayurveda has a very unique concept of “depth” and “breadth” of a disease, which we do not find in modern medicine. The idea is that when a disease begins, it typically has only one effect or symptom. At that time, symptomatic cures can be applied, and those may cure the ...
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Ego—The Enemy Within

Here’s a meditation: My greatest friend is the intelligence to find the truth, and my greatest enemy is the ego due to which I reject the truth. This post carries forward the discussion of the last one and describes the harmful effects of the ego, which are primarily two: (a) ...
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The Sāñkhya Description of Ego

What we colloquially call the "ego" is a very complex covering of the soul in Vedic philosophy. It comprises four components, namely, (a) the idea that I'm a master called Pradhāna, (b) the desire to exercise mastery in a particular way called Prakṛti, (c) the idea that I possess great ...
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Voidism and Oneness in the Philosophy of Sri Chaitanya

In Indian philosophy, the voidism of Buddhist philosophy is seen as the opposition to the materialism of demigod worship and rituals. Then, classical impersonalism or Advaita is seen as the opposition to voidism in Buddhist philosophy. Finally, classical personalism or Vaishnavism is seen as the opposition to the impersonalism of ...
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The Problem in the Intelligent Design Argument

The Intelligent Design Argument has a well-known flaw that is often used by critics against it: The world is not perfectly designed. In a hilariously perverse example of this argument (that I saw on YouTube a few weeks ago), an atheist argues that men’s testicles are not perfectly designed because ...
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Two Kinds of Mahattattva

A friend today pointed out to me a seeming anomaly between two descriptions of the Mahattattva. The first description appears as the second covering of the universe in Vedic cosmology, where the first covering is the Ahaṃkāra or ego. The second description appears in Sāñkhya where the Ahaṃkāra is said ...
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Leaders vs. Managers

According to a recent Gallup survey, only 15% of the global workforce is "engaged" as most people "hate their job and especially their boss". The reason for this disenchantment with people managers is not hard to find: Leadership requires character development but that is not on the curriculum of any ...
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The Problem of Evil

The problem of evil refers to the question of how to reconcile the existence of evil in this world with an omnibenevolent, omniscient, and omnipotent God. The argument for the problem of evil goes as follows: We can see that evil exists in this world—cheating, misery and suffering, poverty, disease, ...
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Philosophizing in Six Perspectives

In my first book—Six Causes—I described a theory of creation that comprises six causes, namely, Material Cause, Efficient Cause, Personal Cause, Formal Cause, Instrumental Cause, and Systemic Cause. This was in a way a contrast to the Greek use of four causes (Final, Efficient, Material, and Formal). Now, as I ...
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How Shankaracharya’s Philosophy Made India Weak and Poor

There is a popular narrative in India at present that Islamic Invaders and British Colonialists destroyed India’s traditional culture and civilization. That is not entirely false. But any serious student of history is led to ask: Why did these invaders succeed in conquering India when numerous such invasions were repelled ...
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The Philosophy of Contracts

Modern society is constructed on the idea of contracts. This idea can be traced back to Judaism which instituted a “covenant” with God in which God will do certain things for Abraham if Abraham did some things for God. The first covenant of Judaism for instance says: “You shall be ...
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An Illustration of Semantic Addition

As a follow-up to an earlier post, where I described how natural laws arise as a result of qualities, this post explores this idea further using an example. Since modern science grew out of the idea that matter is res extensa—i.e., that it has only one property of extension in ...
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Krishna is Jealous and Nonchalant

Many people say that the God of Abrahamic religions is a “jealous” God. However, they don’t ask: If we can be jealous, then why can God also not be jealous? Similarly, if we can be non-jealous, therefore, God must also be non-jealous. This contradiction makes it very hard to understand ...
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The Knot in the Heart

In the Śrīmad Bhagavatam, two verses—nearly identical in the text—are present in two places. They talk about the destruction of the knot in the heart, and the realization of mastery ...
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The Laws of Nature in Vedic Philosophy

Modern science uses two kinds of laws—these are called “conservation laws” and “predictive laws”. A conservation law states what cannot happen, and a predictive law states what must happen. For example, the law of conservation of energy says that if two particles collide then the sum of their energies cannot ...
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Graha vs. Planet

In Vedic cosmology, the universe is comprised of Grahas which means “houses”. In modern cosmology, the universe is comprised of planets, which are balls of matter. This difference manifests in the English language, where it is appropriate to say that a person is in the house, whereas it is stated ...
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The Mīmāṃsā Doctrine of Arthavāda

All over Vedic texts, the world is described as "sound" or "text". The source of this world is stated to be the original meaning, called "knowledge". This original meaning then expands to create various other types of meanings, which are all partial knowledge. The Mīmāṃsā system of philosophy gives this ...
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On the Problem of Sanskrit Translations

There are many words in Sanskrit that do not have direct equivalents in other languages. Ardent supporters of Sanskrit, therefore, makes two controversial claims. First, that any translation into another language must distort the meaning. Second, to preserve the meaning we must either introduce the same words into the lingua ...
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Creation as Conscious Creativity

Beginning with my first book, "Six Causes", I have been describing a paradigm of creation that stems from conscious creativity. In this paradigm, the self goes missing in the self, and when this "absence" is created, then creativity occurs to overcome this absence by expanding the self into works of ...
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Technical Issues in Bhagavad-Gita Translations

Recently, while preparing for a presentation, I started looking up Bhagavad-Gita translations and found some curious discrepancies, which make the translations scientifically inaccurate. On finding these in the select verses that I was looking up (i.e., not an exhaustive study), I went back to the original translations and found that ...
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The Meaning of Brahman in Vedanta Sutra

Many of us have become accustomed to impersonal interpretations of Vedanta, where Brahman is identified as a transcendental state of Oneness, and the soul is the Brahman, in that transcendental state. However, a closer look at Vedanta Sutra reveals that Brahman actually doesn’t refer to the impersonal state. Rather, Brahman ...
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How Vaiśeṣika Explains the Immune System

The world is today gripped by the CoVID pandemic. Every few days new vaccines and virus variants are talked about. The governments are pressured into vaccination, the doctors have no time (and limited ability) to test if a person is already immune to CoVID before administering a vaccine. And nobody ...
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One, Oneness, and Separateness

The following is an excerpt from the Vaiśeṣika Sutras, that describes the three principles of One, Oneness, and Separateness, which create two paradoxes—unity in diversity and diversity in unity. Many things emerge out of the One, therefore, they must have existed in the One previously; this is the paradox of ...
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The Aspected Nature of the Absolute Truth

Below are some verses from the Nyāya Sutra that discuss the nature of the Supreme Lord, and describe how He is one and many, how He is attained by devotees and yet never truly attained by anyone, and how the varied aspects of His personality are hidden inside the other ...
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Why Dreams Feel Just Like Waking

If you lift a ball in your hand while awake, you feel downward pressure. If you ask a physicist why that is the case, then he will say: This pressure is felt because of Newton’s gravitational law – GM1M2/R2 – where G is the Gravitational constant, M1 and M2 are ...
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The Nyāya Philosophy of Presence and Absence

The Nyāya system of philosophy describes a category called abhāva or 'absence' and then explains how bhāva or 'presence' manifests from the absence. This is a very long discussion in Nyāya Sutra (which I'm translating presently) and has many nuances. It is hard to capture all these details here, but ...
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Is the Material World an Illusion or Reality?

Several people have asked me in recent days about the nature of māyā. This made me realize how little this concept is understood and prompted me to write the following long post describing the problem of illusion, the various problems arising from its solution, and the nature of the correct ...
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The Nyāya Conception of a Scientific Theory

Below is the translation and commentary on some of the Nyāya Sutras, which describe the nature of a scientific theory as comprised of four aspects. The first aspect represents the purpose of the system; the second, the functional parts that execute this purpose; the third, a mechanism of control that ...
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The Scientific Study of Consciousness

Vedic texts divide experience into the seer, the seen, and the seeing. We can also call these the knower, the known, and the knowing. What we commonly call ‘consciousness’ is the process of seeing or knowing. This seeing or knowing is a property of the soul—the seer or the knower—but ...
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God and Mathematics

The following is a somewhat extended version of a reply to some questions that I sent today to an interested reader. I thought this description would be relevant and useful even to others, and hence I decided to post it ...
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Nature is Pregnant with Possibility – The Doctrine of Satkāryavāda

I'm currently translating the original text of Sāñkhya Sūtras composed by Sage Kapila, and it discusses the doctrine of Satkāryavāda, and its distinctions with other philosophies. This discussion is important for those interested in understanding Sāñkhya. While the full translation and commentary on the text will take some more time, ...
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Dreams, Misperceptions, Hallucinations, Illusions, and Ignorance

All students of epistemology cite many categories of experience that are not knowledge, in order to distinguish them from knowledge. These categories are different in Western and Vedic systems of philosophy. In particular, in the latter, dreams are not considered false, although there are other categories that are false. This ...
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Round Earth in a Flat Cosmology

In an earlier post (which now seems ages ago), I had described the meaning of “flat earth”. The simple idea was that the flatness was an artifact of the model rather than our observation. This point has oft been repeated in my book Mystic Universe as well. I will use ...
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I Am The Creator, From Me Comes Everything

In practically every religion of the world God is said to be the creator of the universe. And this leads atheistic people to say: "No, the universe came from the Big Bang; no God was involved". But Kṛṣṇa says in the Bhagavad-Gita (10.8), that He is not just the creator; ...
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The Principles of Beauty

The question of beauty has been incessantly debated since Greek times in Western philosophy, but it has some simple answers, if we adopt the view that the world is idea-like. When we look at a rose, and we cognize it as a rose, then we might also say, that the ...
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Prabhupāda’s Three Big Ideas on Science

Much has been said about Prabhupāda’s visionary leadership and scholarship in bringing India’s authentic culture, civilization, philosophy, and practice to the Western world. But very little is said about his vision for the future of the world as seen through the lens of science. In this post, I will try ...
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Jambudvipa Mountain Heights

The following is a response to some questions that have arisen regarding the 7th chapter in the book Mystic Universe. The central problems pertain to the following key issues: I have shown Jambudvīpa as a stepped structure, while others take it as flat I have shown that the mountains are ...
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Consciousness Has a Gender

In the previous post, we discussed how matter is also consciousness, although a different type of consciousness. We identified three types of consciousness—God, soul, and matter—and discussed their natures. This post extends that discussion and identifies three genders associated with the three types of consciousness—masculine, feminine, and neutral. God has ...
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Matter is Also Consciousness

The modern scientific study of matter arose out of the mind-body duality created by Descartes, who wanted to separate the endeavors of the Church (i.e. religion) from those of a rational-empirical inquiry (i.e. science). Similar kinds of dualities have existed in Vedic philosophy too. For example, in Advaita philosophy, Brahman ...
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Why Theism Needs Alternative Causation

Imagine that a moving billiard ball collides with a static one, and transfers its energy, which causes the static billiard ball to start moving. The cause of the change is energy, and due to conservation, once energy is transferred to the new ball, the cause ceases to exist, and the ...
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The Supreme Personality of Godhead

Most religions speak about the Supreme Person simply as “God”. In Vedic texts, He is described as Īśvara. But in the Gaudīya Vaishnava literature, since the time of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvati Thakur, the term “Supreme Personality of Godhead” is often employed to describe what is otherwise simply referred to by ...
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Three Aspects of Love

What is love? Is it one thing or many? Is there anything in common between brotherly love and motherly one? Why is love so elusive to understand, even though many of us may have felt it? Why is love often equated to sacrifice, service, and dedication? This post deconstructs the ...
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Consciousness is Rooted in Inner Conflict

This post discusses how choice arises from conflict, in the act of conflict resolution. The nature of this conflict, how conflict resolution leads to compromises in which one side goes dominant and the other subordinate, and how the dominant-subordinate structure is later reversed, producing a cyclic change, are interesting consequences ...
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How Living Systems Violate the Second Law of Thermodynamics

When James Clerk Maxwell proposed the second law of thermodynamics, he envisioned a thought experiment in which two chambers of gas were joined by a small door under the control of a ‘demon’ who would selectively open the door depending on which direction the gas molecules were moving. If we ...
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Secularism in Vedic Philosophy

Secularism arose during the era of Enlightenment in Europe with the aim to relegate religion to the private realm and determine the public sphere by reason and experience. Europe wasn’t arguing for the equality of all religions in the eyes of the government. It was arguing for the rejection of ...
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Mob Psychology—Does a Group Have a Mind?

It is common to think that a person has a body and a mind. But when groups of people act in concerted ways, it seems that they are a singular body controlled by a mind. How is a random collection of people (who act in individual ways) different from one ...
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A Random Walk Through Perception

I have recently received several questions about Sāñkhya. These include the differences between senses and organs, that between inert matter and a living body, how desires influence perception, how Sāñkhya elements could be understood in analogy to motion, and the relation between yoga and the control of senses and the ...
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Atomic Reality and the Crisis of Realism

It is commonplace for people to assert that quantum theory indicates a lack of objectivity or reality, when all it indicates is the failure of the classical conception of reality. In the classical conception, when you cut an apple, you get smaller pieces of apple. In this post, I will ...
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The Conundrum of Free Will

Since the beginning of science, nature was believed to be controlled by some laws which can be used to make predictions about the future independent of the individual observers. The observers cannot have choices because through these choices the future could be changed, in contradiction to the laws of nature ...
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The Cyclic Model of Causality

In modern science, causes are equated to forces. These forces represent how change occurs; it involves explaining the creation of a trajectory. However, forces don’t explain why change occurs, which involves the goal or destination along with a moral justification of the goal. For example, if someone asks you, “How ...
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Study Consciousness in Science?

In this post I will explore some philosophical ideas from Vedic philosophy and try to describe what consciousness is and argue that we cannot reduce consciousness to matter, but we can study matter using consciousness as the model. In short, we begin by assuming the soul, and then explain matter ...
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Why the Genome Incompletely Describes the Body

Genetic determinism—or the idea that we are fully determined by our genes taken from our parents—is now a thing of the past. Empirical evidence now shows that genes may exist but may not be expressed. The expression is controlled by some ‘epigenetic’ factors (which are also molecules) but enabled and ...
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The Reality of Rational and Irrational Numbers

In the previous post we talked about the problem of mathematical realism of negative and complex numbers; the issue was that you can construct these numbers logically and conceptually, but you will never find them in the real world. The problem of irrational numbers is the opposite: you can easily ...
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Do Negative and Imaginary Numbers Exist?

Numbers for the greater part of history have been viewed alternately as concepts and as quantities. Now, this raises problems about many types of numbers, which include negative numbers and imaginary numbers, because these cannot be viewed as quantities although there are compelling theories that can treat them logically as ...
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Mathematical Novelties in Vedic Philosophy

This is the transcript of the eighth episode of my podcast. In this episode, we talk about a number of unique problems that arise in trying to make Vedic philosophy more rigorous in a logical and mathematical sense. I have been presenting some of these ideas while discussing the theories ...
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Knowledge by Reason, Experiment and Authority

This is the transcript of the seventh episode of the Shabda Podcast. In this episode, we will talk about the problem of epistemology or how do we know. We will go over some historical material regarding the methods of knowledge prevalent in Western philosophy and then look at the same ...
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Semantic Atomic Theory

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 ...
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Karma and Altruism

Some people argue that because we are predestined to suffer and enjoy due to karma therefore there is no point in helping people. This view of karma is interpreted to mean that Vedic philosophy is opposed to altruism and charity. In fact, practitioners of some religions such as Christianity claim that ...
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Karma, Reincarnation, and Divine Justice

This is the transcript of the fifth episode of my podcast. In this episode we talk about the nature of karma and how it is created. We discuss how karma is created as a consequences of actions, different from cause and effect, and to the extent that science only deals with causes and ...
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The Tortoise Model of Perception

We normally think that the world comes to us during perception. For example, light enters your eyes; the electrical impulses go into the brain, where an image is created. Owing to this model of perception, John Locke claimed that the mind is tabula rasa or a blank slate at birth ...
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What is Morphic Resonance?

Biologist Rupert Sheldrake coined the term Morphic Resonance to describe the idea that the occurrence of events in one place seems to recreate those same events in other places. For example, he notes that once a crystal has been synthesized in one place, synthesizing crystals in other places subsequently becomes ...
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The Vedic Evolutionary Model

The following is the transcript of the fourth episode of my podcast. This episode talks about an alternative model of evolution based upon the notions of matter derived from quantum physics rather than classical physics. In classical physics, a particle established continuity between successive states, but in quantum physics there ...
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The Incompleteness of Science

This is the edited transcript of the third episode of my podcast. In this episode we talk about the problem of incompleteness in science and how this problem is not limited to physical theories but goes way deeper into mathematics and logic itself. The root cause of this problem is ...
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The Tree of Meanings

This is the edited transcript of the second episode of my podcast. This episode discusses how space and time are treated as trees of three kinds of meanings in Vedic philosophy. The idea of tree of meaning has been described at various places in Vedic texts, as well as in ...
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From Science to Religion and Back

This is the edited transcript of the first episode on my podcast. The episode discusses the relation between religion and science from the perspective of Vedic philosophy, and how an original meaning embodied by God expands into symbols which include both the soul and their material experiences. This relation between meaning ...
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Species – The Vedic Perspective

Species in modern science are defined by the type of body and often by their DNA, and they evolve through random mutations and natural selection by the environment. Cracks in this notion of evolution appear when one zooms out to look at ecosystems. An ecosystem is defined by interrelations between ...
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Competition and Cooperation

The debate between individualism and collectivism lies at the heart of all modern political debates, but it is obvious that we could not live without both. If everyone acted individualistically, society—which hinges on cooperation—could not exist; there could be no common agreement on social laws that aim for the greater ...
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The Mechanisms of Depression

As mental illnesses become prominent in today’s world, and science doesn’t believe in the existence of anything that cannot be sensually perceived, the cure of such illnesses suffers from a conceptual poverty inherited from the legacy of the physical sciences. While the understanding of the mind is receiving renewed focus ...
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The Arithmetic of Concepts

In all religious philosophies, God is the original person, Who creates all else. If we were to count things, then God would represent 1. In Vedic philosophy, additionally, all that is created is also a part of God, Who is then described as the complete truth. In effect, since God ...
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Did We Land on the Moon?

According to a Gallup poll, about 6% of Americans believe that man never went to the moon; they endorse conspiracy theories in which these landings were supposedly staged in a studio. This post is not about such conspiracy theories. I will discuss why we cannot go to the moon, although ...
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Happiness is a Choice

I used to think that happiness is caused by other people, situations, and things. If only they would just behave, I would be happy. As silly as it sounds, it is indeed a deep-seated belief in each one of us. I have now realized that happiness is a cause rather ...
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A Brief Guide to My Books

Over the years as I have written many books, and new readers often want to know where to begin, how to proceed systematically, so that understanding them would become easier. Implicit in this request is the problem that the books are not easy reading, especially if you don’t read them ...
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The Epistemology of Happiness

How do we know something to be true? This question has preoccupied philosophy for as long as we can remember. Many answers are offered to solve the problem, but each one suffers from a different problem. For example, reason is a useful method of knowing, but reason only compares a ...
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Divine and Demonic Natures

This post offers some practical advice on how to deal with different kinds of people in this world based on some ideas drawn from Vedic philosophy—namely, divine and demonic natures—which are separated into the upper and lower parts of the universe. In the present world, which lies in between the ...
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The Contradictions of Being

In the previous post, I talked about how choice and responsibility are essential features of human life, and thereby of the soul. In this post, I will discuss how both choice and responsibility often present a paradox when the three aspects of the soul—pleasure, ability, and responsibility—are differentiated and what ...
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Human Choice and Responsibility

Anthropology is the study of what it means to be human. Some of the factors that have been offered as distinguishing characteristics of humans include language, religion, and social laws. Evolutionists, such as Charles Darwin, believed that humans are similar to animals, although incrementally more intelligent due to their state ...
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The Four Legs of Dharma

The word ‘dharma’ means duty. In the Śrimad Bhāgavatam, dharma is described as a ‘bull’ who stands on four ‘legs’—austerity, cleanliness, truthfulness, and kindness. These principles are common to all aspects of human life, including that which is not directly associated with a ‘religion’. Indeed, ‘religion’ in the Vedic context ...
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How is Semantics Related to Religion?

I focus on the problem of meaning in science. A lot of people ask me why. What does semantics have to do with religion? There are many levels at which this question can be answered, which are deeply enmeshed with the nature of the soul and God in Vedic philosophy, ...
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Economics and Reductionism

Profits require that the whole must be greater than the sum of the parts. For example, half a chair is not half price of the full chair; most times you cannot sell two halves of a chair separately, or price them separately, even when you assemble the chair yourself from ...
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Universalism and Personalism in Science

The laws of nature in current science are mathematical formulae that predict the behavior of objects deterministically, which precludes any role for choice and morality in nature. Therefore, if nature permitted choices, how would we reconceive natural laws? In Vedic philosophy, the law is a material entity called a role ...
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Does Prayer Alleviate Suffering?

Nearly every religion employs the idea of prayer, and most people view prayers as a way to alleviate their suffering. If such a thing were possible, it would encourage the sinner to continue sinning and use prayer to be pardoned. Conversely, if such a thing were impossible, then the skeptic ...
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The Six Systems of Vedic Philosophy

Vedic knowledge comprises the four Vedas (Rig, Yajur, Sāma, and Atharva) with their numerous Samhita, 108 Upanishad, 18 Purāna, Mahabharata, dozens of Tantra texts, and so forth. The above texts, however, are not exhaustive; for example, they don’t contain meticulous details on astronomy, linguistics, grammar, logical reasoning, life sciences, architecture, ...
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Free Market Economics vs. Capitalism

Free market economics is about competition between businesses, and it operates under the assumptions of a closed system in which wealth can be redistributed, but the total wealth must remain constant. Capitalism is the contrary idea that the economy is an open system in which wealth can be infused, in ...
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Can Biology Be Based on the Nature of the Soul?

In Vedic philosophy, the soul has three properties—sat or consciousness, chit or meanings, and ananda or pleasure. These three aspects of the soul are also reflected in matter and pervade throughout the body—the parts of the body are due to chit, the functions of each of the parts is due ...
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How Guna and Karma Create the Body

Vedic texts describe how the body of a soul is created due to guna and karma. This seems unintuitive if we think that the body is created by eating food. But how do we eat food? Food consumption is, in Vedic philosophy, influenced by two factors, called guna (plural) and karma. This ...
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The Meaning of Yajña

In practically all Vedic texts a concept called yajña is employed, which is loosely translated as a “sacrifice” and the performance of the yajña is said to be the means to advance spiritually. For most people, yajña is understood as a fire lit in a pot into which food grains ...
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The Freudian vs. the Vedic Unconscious

The initial thesis of Freudian psychoanalysis and that of Vedic philosophy are similar—namely, that our surface behaviors are the result of a deeper “unconscious” reality. The person in both cases is described hierarchically—e.g. as an iceberg, with only the tip visible, while most of its reality is invisible. Nevertheless, there are numerous ...
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Vedic Knowledge and Modern Education

Vedic knowledge was previously imparted in a systematic manner, covering spirituality, social roles, and responsibilities, as well as vocational education on a person’s role in society. For example, Mahabharata describes how the Pāndava and the Kaurava were sent for education to Dronacharya where they were taught spiritual topics, their duties ...
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Men Are From Sun, Women Are From Moon

“Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus,” says that bestseller book from John Gray. This book has become a classic, although it stereotypes both men and women, disregarding the fact that each person has both masculine and feminine tendencies in them to varying degrees. We can clearly speak about ...
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The Philosophy of Masculine and Feminine

As we have seen earlier, a soul has three tendencies called sat (consciousness), chit (meaning), and ananda (pleasure), such that the essence of choice is that between meaning and pleasure. We have also discussed previously, how the original sat-chit-ananda Absolute Truth creates five forms—Kṛṣṇa, Rāma, Hara, Ramā, and Jīvā, which ...
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The Universe in a Lotus Stem

One of the most enduring images in the Vedic scriptures is that of Lord Brahma sitting on a lotus the stem of which goes down to the navel of Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu, who is also praised as Hiranyagarbha. The fourteen planetary systems in Vedic cosmology are described to reside inside the ...
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Sāńkhya and Modern Atomism

Sāńkhya has a theory of atomism, which is quite different than the theory of modern atomism. The modern description of atoms is based on the distinction between matter and force whereas the Sāńkhya description is based on the distinction between words and meanings. Clearly, we cannot expect the two descriptions ...
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The Balanced Organization

Vedic philosophy describes the body as a universe and the universe as a body. Since the world is intended for living beings, there is no fundamental divide between "physical sciences", "life sciences", and "social sciences". Thus, the cosmic structure, the social structure, the biological structure, and the psychological structure are ...
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Guru and Non-Locality

Many people currently view a guru as a classical particle, which interacts with other classical particles through physical contact like a billiard ball collides with another billiard ball. The advocates of such a theory claim that it is necessary for a person to be physically in touch with a guru, ...
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The Unity of Vedic Philosophy

At the present, most people view Gauḍiya Vaishnavism as one among the many sects of Vaishnavism, with the others being Viśiṣṭādvaita, Dvaita, Dvaitādvaita, and Śuddhādvaita. Vaishnavism is itself considered one of the three sects—namely, Shaiva, Shakta, and Vaishnava. The three sects are together believed to constitute personalism as opposed to ...
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The Problem of Scriptural Exegesis

Exegesis, according to Wikipedia, is “a critical explanation or interpretation of a text, particularly a religious text”. In the Vedic tradition, it exists as the commentaries by previous āchāryās who have explained the scriptures in various ways according to time, place, and circumstances. Such commentaries are essential for one key reason—the ...
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The Cycle of Guna and Karma

The term guna indicates what we desire, and the term karma indicates what we deserve; both exist as possibilities, but their combination in time produces the cycle of birth and death. This is the essence of the Vedic science discussed in an earlier post where guna, karma, and kāla were described ...
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The Sāńkhya Theory of Five Elements

This post elaborates on the Sāńkhya theory of the five “gross” elements. The theory is rather complicated, and not well-understood today. One primary source of confusions is a comparison between the Sāńkhya elements and the Greek elements going by the same name. This post will hopefully illustrate how the Sāńkhya ...
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The Paradox of Natural Laws and Its Resolution

In an earlier post, I described the problem of computing in nature, namely that scientific laws employ mathematical formulae, but it is not clear how these formulae are being calculated in nature. The reasons for this are historical and date back to Newton’s formulation of the three laws of motion ...
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Society is Defined by Heroes

In the previous post, I alluded to the idea that society is built on the stories of heroes, which are produced through a combination of two of the six qualities—knowledge and fame—of Lord Viṣṇu. These heroes can be renowned due to other four qualities—i.e. renunciation, power, wealth, and beauty. Thus, ...
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The Vedic Theory of Aesthetics

All texts like books, magazines, and papers for instance have two components: cognitive and aesthetic. The distinction between the cognitive and the aesthetic is apparent if we distinguish between prose and poetry. They can both convey the same meaning, but poetry says it more aesthetically. Similarly, you can talk in ...
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The Hierarchy of Yoga Systems

The Bhagavad-Gita describes various yoga systems called karma-yoga, jñāna-yoga, dhyāna-yoga, and bhakti-yoga. Each of these yoga processes is based on a scientific understanding of reality, but since this view of reality is not widely understood, there is often a misconception that there are “many paths” to the same truth, which ...
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What is Vedic Science, Really?

In the introduction to the Bhagavad-Gita As It Is, Śrīla Prabhupāda writes, “The subject of the Bhagavad-gītā entails the comprehension of five basic truths. First of all the science of God is explained, and then the constitutional position of the living entities, jīvas. Prakriti (material nature) and time (the duration ...
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Reasoning and Semantic Computation

Since the advent of computers, it has been widely believed that the human mind is just like a computer. I have previously described why this is a false analogy due to two problems: (1) the problem of meaning, and (2) the problem of choice. I have also discussed the problem ...
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The Four Tiers of Reality

The previous post discussed the meaning of sat, chit, and ananda—i.e. consciousness or relation to things, the search for meaning, and the search for happiness. The search for meaning creates a personality—i.e. how others know you. The search for happiness creates an individuality—i.e. what kinds of pleasures one enjoys. The ...
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The Pursuit of Meaning and Happiness

“The pursuit of happiness and meaning are two of our most central motivations in life” but “there can be substantial trade-offs between seeking happiness and seeking meaning in life,” writes Scott Barry Kaufman in a thought-provoking Scientific American post. In a stereotypical sense, the pursuit of meaning is one that ...
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Sāńkhya, Reductionism, and New Science

Many people believe modern science is reductionist and an alternative anti-reductionist science must replace it. This post discusses why Sāńkhya is reductionist—because it reduces everything to only three modes of nature (sattva, rajas, and tamas). It also discusses why Sāńkhya is anti-reductionist—because the first mode of nature in this reductionist theory ...
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Lessons of Ayurveda for Vedic Cosmology

The previous post discussed the model of the human body in Ayurveda. If you haven’t noticed, the most surprising aspect of Ayurveda is that it remains silent on what modern medicine calls heart, lungs, intestines, brain, pancreas, spleen, etc. It is surprising because modern medical education begins with anatomy and ...
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The Ayurveda Model of a Living Body

Vedic knowledge provides detailed information about many aspects of material nature such as cosmology, sociology, psychology, and biology. For example, the Śrimad Bhāgavatam provides a detailed cosmic model. Varṇāśrama is a sociological model. Sāńkhya is a cognitive model. And Ayurveda is a biological model. All these models have structural resemblances ...
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What is Daivī Varna System?

The previous post identified two impersonalist tendencies—i.e. "we are one" and "we are equal"—and discussed their respective impacts on Indian and Western societies. The post also discussed how a personalist system based on hierarchical thinking (rather than equality or oneness) is necessary for social organization. This post carries forward that ...
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Personalist and Impersonalist Societies

There is one fundamental cultural difference between the West and India—the West is a flat, egalitarian society, while India is still, to an extent, a hierarchical society. In the stereotyped view of the West, children do not respect parents, students do not respect teachers, and citizens do not respect politicians ...
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Dialectical Materialism and Sāńkhya

The world around us is filled with dualities or oppositions. There are two main resolutions of this duality as we have seen earlier—(1) finding the relation between the opposing ideas and the next “higher level” idea from which these oppositions were created, and (2) finding a quantitative balance between the ...
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The Illusion of Nationhood

An earlier post outlined the differences between physical space and conceptual space. The next post then outlined how the conceptual space is suited to describe societies and ecosystems. This post discusses how the conceptual space creates the phenomena and the illusion of physical space. In this illusion, the weakly interacting ...
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Space as a Model of Society and Ecosystems

In Vedic cosmology, space is meant for living beings, because the material universe exists for the purposes of such beings. When space is the canvas on which we describe living phenomena, then macroscopic phenomena in the space constitute the evolution of society, while the microscopic phenomena indicate the evolution of ...
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The Construction of Semantic Space

This post discusses how points in a conceptual space are defined differently than in a physical space. The difference is that a physical space defines locations in relation to an origin, whereas a conceptual space defines locations in relation to a boundary. In a physical space, points are constructed through ...
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Absolute and Relative Space

Hierarchical space brings a problem of having to reconcile a fixed hierarchy of material elements in an observer with the fixed hierarchy of the different planetary systems in the universe. The problem is that every living being in the universe has a morality, ego, intelligence, mind, senses, properties, and sense ...
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Why God is a Scientific Construct

Vaishnava literature describes four forms of God—Vasudeva, Saṅkarṣaṇa, Pradyumna, and Aniruddha. These four forms are also said to be the masters of mind (Aniruddha), intelligence (Pradyumna), ego (Saṅkarṣaṇa) and mahattattva (Vasudeva), which are material elements in Sāńkhya. This leads us to ask: how is God the “master” of a material ...
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The Inception of Bhaktivedānta Institute

In late 1997, H.H. Bhaktisvarūpa Dāmodara Maharaja told me that he wanted to compile Śrīla Prabhupāda’s instructions on Bhaktivedānta Institute into a book. With that intent, he and I made some recordings, where Maharaja narrated the early history of Institute and I transcribed the tapes. Following this, I searched for ...
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How Culture Influences Religion

We generally think of religion as something that pertains to transcendence beyond the current material existence. The reality, however, is that the day-to-day practice of religion involves societies whose cultural norms must be compatible with the tenets of the religion. If there is a misfit between culture and religion, then ...
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When Shankarāchārya Composed Erotica

Shankarāchārya's life is full of amazing incidents, but there is one incident that I find particularly interesting. It is the story of how Shankarāchārya debated the husband-wife couple— Maṇḍana Miśra and Ubhaya Bhārati—on the primacy of Mimānsa vs. Vedānta. Aside from the significant philosophical shift that Shankarāchārya's victory in this ...
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What is the Power of Kundalini?

In an earlier post, I discussed how the Sāńkhya notion of manifest and unmanifest matter addresses some fundamental problems related to perception and realism. In a later post, I discussed how the unmanifest becomes manifest through several stages—para, pasyanti, madhyama, and vaikhari. We also talked about how the agency to cause ...
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Can We Know Reality Without Changing It?

The modern atomic theory describes perception as a change both to reality and to our perception. For instance, when we see the redness of an apple, light impinges on the apple, is absorbed by the atoms in the apple, and then emitted. The color perceived by the eyes is due ...
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Why Sāńkhya Doesn’t Have Objects of Action

Even a casual look at Sāńkhya reveals an apparent asymmetry in its ontology, namely that there are five sense-objects called Earth, Water, Fire, Air, and Ether, corresponding to the five senses of knowledge Nose, Tongue, Eyes, Skin, and Ears respectively, but there aren’t corresponding sense-objects for the five senses of ...
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Why the Controversy on Flat Earth is Misplaced

It is not hard to find debates today between “flat” and “round” Earths. Many of these debates are founded on conspiracy theories, but discussing those conspiracy theories isn’t the intent of this post. This post discusses a completely different notion of flat Earth which is found in Vedic cosmology texts, ...
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The Four Ethers of Sāńkhya Philosophy

Sāńkhya describes four ethers—vaikhari, madhyama, pasyanti, and para—which are successively deeper descriptions of reality. The understanding of the successive ethers depends on the understanding of the previous ether. In that sense, there are four tiers of causality and each such tier must be fully understood to obtain a complete understanding ...
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What is Prāna?

Sāńkhya divides matter into manas (mind), prāna (life force), and vāk. In the previous post, we discussed the nature of vāk and manas as the relation between word and meaning, or between matter and mind. This post elaborates on the third aspect of matter called prāna. The post discusses the ...
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Why Sāńkhya Is Important for Quantum Theory

This post discusses the relevance of the idea of “gross” and “subtle” matter in Sāńkhya to the problems of prediction in quantum theory, highlighting the solution using everyday examples. I also discuss how the attempts to divorce “gross” and “subtle” matter, or reduce “subtle” matter to “gross” matter, lead to ...
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The Varna System of Social Organization

Several of my previous posts articulated the conceptual basis of an economic system different than the one that presently exists. These foundations include: (1) the real economic value lies in the objective properties of matter rather than in its human perception, and an economic system, when organized around this objective ...
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Why My Website Has a Copyright Claim

Some readers noted after my previous post (perhaps tongue-in-cheek) that my website has a copyright sign (©) at the bottom of each page. So it seems that I’m protesting the existence of patents but I indicate that the protest itself (my article) is copyrighted. That would seem hypocritical. Would I ...
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Why Intellectual Property is a Flawed Notion

If you talk to a mathematician about their theories, they will say that mathematics is a discovery rather than invention. If you ask a physicist about their theory, they will claim that they are discovering the nature of reality rather than inventing it. But if you talk to a technologist ...
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What the New World Order Could Be

The term “New World Order” often refers to a system of global governance and economics, including the system of monetary exchanges and trade established through institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, and the balance of power between the nations through organizations such as the United ...
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Do Supply and Demand Define Economic Value?

Economists have taught us that nothing by itself has intrinsic value. The value, according to them, rather depends on supply and demand for that thing. If the supply is high and the demand is low, then the value automatically decreases. Conversely, if the demand is high and the supply low, ...
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The Phonosemantics Thesis

In earlier posts—such as here—I described the notion of space in which words are identical to their meanings, and connected it to a tree-like structure of space. In the last post, I described how this tree-like structure of space appears in all languages in trying to decode their meanings. In ...
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The Problem of Meaning in Artificial Intelligence

Since the 1960s, when computers first appeared,  a machine that can think just like humans was claimed to be just a few years away. This idea has been called Artificial Intelligence (AI) and it reappears every few years in a new form, the latest being the brouhaha around “Machine Learning”, ...
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What are Manifest and Unmanifest States of Matter?

This is a follow-up to the previous post, which discussed the nature of space in Śrimad Bhāgavatam (SB). The goal of this one is to describe the ideas of “manifest” and “unmanifest” states of matter. Matter in the Śrimad Bhāgavatam (and indeed in many other Vedic works of literature) is ...
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How is Space in Śrimad Bhāgavatam Different from Space in Modern Science?

Many people currently believe that the things that science is currently discovering were known to Vedic philosophers and sages in the past. This notion is false because the concepts of matter in Vedic philosophy are radically different from those in modern science. This post discusses the issue from the standpoint ...
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What is Fixed and What is Free?

If the universe was not determined in some sense, then we could not make any scientific predictions. If, however, we did not have free will to choose among alternatives, there could be no moral judgments. This contentious issue confuses many of us, as we tend to either capitulate to free ...
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Quantum Motion – Elevators vs. Escalators

While going down in an elevator, it recently occurred to me that the elevator doesn't move unless we indicate the floor it has to go to, quite different from an escalator that keeps moving regardless of whether anyone has anywhere to go to. This difference is a useful way to ...
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Causality ― Outside or Inside?

If you have had a difficult life―like some people around us―you might have asked yourself: Why does it happen to me and not to others? If you are a good person but have still suffered at the hands of others, you might ask yourself: Do I really control my life? ...
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The Semantic Interpretation of Quantum Theory

I'm always looking to formulate new ways of describing a problem and its solution; this not only helps us understand what is missing but why the solution is necessary. This post presents a different way of understanding my Semantic Interpretation of Quantum Theory previously described at length in the book ...
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Computers and the Mind – What’s the Difference?

This post discusses the widespread notion that the mind is some kind of computer; that the computer is able to represent knowledge, and this knowledge can be about the world. As we shall see, this notion is quite silly, although people—who are either not physicists, mathematicians, or computer engineers, or just happen ...
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Information, Uncertainty and Choice

In the previous post, I described how modern science employs two contradictory ideas—possibility and choice—although in practice only one of them can be used, resulting in incompleteness. An example of that incompleteness is that quantum theory describes the world as a possibility that needs to be completed by a choice, ...
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Quantum Theory and Evolution

Darwinian evolution or evolutionary theory predates the development of modern physics—e.g. quantum theory. At the time at which the theory was developed, the best-known theory of matter was classical physics, in which matter always exists in definite states. Ideas such as random mutation and natural selection in evolution were incompatible ...
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How Meanings Change the Use of Logic

While writing mathematical equalities, we assume that if A = B, then B = A. But this principle doesn't hold in logic when we employ two concepts, one of which is more general than the other. For example, "cat is a mammal" doesn't imply that "mammal is a cat" because ...
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Mystic Universe – An Introduction

Last year, I wrote a post on the Twin Paradox in relativistic theory, followed by another post on the nature of Dark Energy and Dark Matter, which I never published. The reason I never published the latter post is that I felt that this could be developed into a full-fledged ...
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The Mechanisms of Choice

When John von Neumann introduced the idea of the “conscious collapse” into quantum theory, he committed a heresy—or at least something that would have been considered a heresy up until that point—by introducing a causal agent called “consciousness” within science. Science until that point had worked explicitly to keep mind ...
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Advaita – The Partial Truth

Many people who look at Vedic philosophy in current times, understand it as Advaita, which is an interpretation of Vedānta, that claims that the ultimate reality is a singular, unified existence called Brahman, from which the world is produced as māyā or illusion. The Brahman is equated with consciousness, although ...
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The Problem of Measurement in Science

It is commonly assumed that science describes objective facts about the world, which are discovered through measurements of physical properties. The problems in this measurement are generally not understood, and this post describes them, highlighting two key issues of circularity and recursion in the definition of measurement. How these problems ...
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The Structure-Function Debate in Biology

Modern science grew out of the idea that the universe is comprised of independent parts, and a complex system can be reduced to these parts without loss of completeness. The independence of parts became the basis of reductionism―the idea that the whole is simply a linear sum of parts. Sometimes, ...
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The Twin Paradox and Conscious Experience

The Twin Paradox in Einstein's Relativity Theory describes a thought experiment in which there are two identical twins, one of whom makes a journey into space in a high-speed rocket and returns home to find that the twin who remained on Earth has aged more. This post analyzes the paradox ...
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The Vedic Perspective on Free Will

My two previous posts explored the flaws in the materialist reduction of free will to rationality and discussed the use of free will in science. The second post concluded by arguing that every conscious experience involves choices, and these may be good or bad―depending on whether they are successful. This ...
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What is Free Will, Really?

The previous post examined the materialist critique of free will and showed why the reduction of free will to rationality (and then to the mechanization of rationality) is flawed because rationality itself involves choices of axioms that themselves cannot be rationalized―i.e. reduced to more fundamental axioms. The only way to ...
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Do We Have Free Will?

Attacks on free will have become fairly common. While the attackers often recognize what is at risk — namely the sense of responsibility and accountability — they are motivated by establishing the primacy of what science seems to be telling us over what we have commonsensically believed over the centuries. This post examines the ...
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Numbers, Truth, Morality and God

What is a Number? Is it an idea or a thing? This question has been debated since Greek times, and it still remains unanswered in philosophy and science. This post examines the nature of the problem, and what its likely resolution will look like. It illustrates how the problem of ...
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There is Only Form

Since the time of Greek philosophers—Plato, Aristotle, and Socrates—it has been believed that the present universe is comprised of two things: form and substance. Forms are the ideas that exist even when substances don't; the world of things combines form and substance, kind of like the form of a statue exists ...
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Evolution and Mechanism – Are They Compatible?

A computer is a canonical example of a machine. Every machine can be described by a mathematical theory, and every mathematical theory can be automated on a computer. Therefore if you could describe something mathematically, you could also automate it in a computer. People often suppose that this means if ...
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Evolution’s Halting Problem

This post describes a problem in Evolutionary Theory that arises when we consider why all living beings eventually die. I will compare the death of a living being to a computer program that halts after completing execution. The issue of program halting is problematic in computing theory because current computing ...
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Do Life and Living Forms Present a Problem for Materialism?

This essay was written in response to the call for essays by the Royal Institute of Philosophy for their yearly essay contest. For the pleasure of readers, it is reproduced below ...
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The Theological Problem of Falldown

I generally refrain from commenting on theological topics and restrict myself to issues in science, but in this post, I will make an exception. The issue of interest is whether a soul "falls down" into matter. There is often confusion around this topic, which, in my view, rests upon a ...
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Properties, Values, and Measurements

One problem that has repeatedly bothered me for the last decade is the distinction between physical properties, their measurements, and the values of properties that are discovered during measurement. I have flip-flopped in my understanding of the problem and what might be a solution. I will use this post to ...
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Models and Reality

During recent online conversations with commentators, I heard a refrain about science: science is only a model, it has nothing to do with reality; our models may get closer to reality over time, but we have no way of knowing that they have gotten to reality, nor do we know ...
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The Broken Watchmaker

Even a broken watch tells the right time twice a day.  However, to know that the watch is broken, we must observe it when it tells the time incorrectly rather than when it tells it correctly. This analogy is a useful way to understand the problem in modern science because ...
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The Scientific Method – Does it Deliver Truth?

The below is a modified version of a response I wrote recently on Google+ in response to a question about the conflict between reason and faith. The response is also detailed in my recent book Uncommon Wisdom. This essay will argue that the manner in which science has construed the use ...
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The Mind-Body Problem in Indian Philosophy

The Mind-Body problem in Western philosophy concerns the difficulty in conceiving the nature of the interaction between mind and body, considering that these two are supposed to be different substances—one physical and material while the other spiritual or mystical. In Indian philosophy, matter itself transforms into the spirit and how ...
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A Solution to the Problem of Hallucination

The problem in any kind of existence begins from a very old distinction between appearance and reality. Appearances are obviously how things seem to us in our perception although not everything that we perceive does really also exist. How things seem to us is a property of our perceptual apparatus—senses, ...
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Three Responses to the Question of Reality

Every area of knowledge begins with the question: What is reality? If I see an apple, is it real? If I see some work of art and think it is beautiful, is it really beautiful? Is money real? Is power real? Is objectivity real? Does she really love me? The ...
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Perception in Indian Philosophy

How we perceive taste, smell, touch, sound, and sight is a fact about our perception, but it has never been properly understood in biology, psychology, or philosophy. The problem is that we suppose material objects to be the length, mass, charge, momentum, energy, temperature, etc. How these physical properties become ...
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The Difference Between Matter and Spirit

Descartes created the mind-body divide and claimed these to be two different substances—the extended substance (res extensa) and the thinking substance (res cogitans). However,  with the progress in science (and attempts to subsume thinking under matter), the distinction between mind and body gets hazier by the day. What is the ...
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Reason and Faith

In the Srimad Bhagāvatam, a Vedic text widely regarded as the culmination of Vedānta (which is in itself considered the conclusion of all knowledge), Sage Kapila elaborates the Sāńkhya theory of material nature to his mother Devahuti and concludes (SB 3.32.32): Philosophical research culminates in understanding the Supreme Personality of ...
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Is the Mind like the Fluidity of Water?

A common argument against the mind-body duality is that the mind is an epiphenomenon of chemical reactions in the brain much like the fluidity of water is a consequence of molecular interactions. This argument seems appealing because if we reduce water to its molecules, we don’t see fluidity in each ...
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Areas of Semantic Research

There are many path-breaking areas of research at the nexus of meaning and matter. I am particularly interested in the following areas, with the specifics described below ...
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Innovator’s Dilemma in Science

The main goal of today’s academic research is to keep the pretense that the situation is, after all, not all that bad. I say this because, if you happen to take a closer look at the biggest outstanding problems facing academic research you will find problems that require not just a ...
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The Motivation Behind My Work

Science has, since its inception, suffered from the mind-body divide that Descartes created. The divide forced sciences to pursue an ideology of matter as opposed to the existence of the mind, which makes an understanding of the mind impossible. Attempts in current science to explain sensations, mind, and intelligence based ...
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