The Self as the Basis for Science

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Article Introduction and Overview

In several places, I described 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 this expansion has occurred, we can say that the book is the idea, but the idea is not the book. The idea can exist without the book, but the book cannot exist without the idea.

These semantic notions of reality, in which everything is meaning, have seemed too radical to most people. In this article, I will illustrate an even simpler articulation of the difference between modern science and the Vedic description of matter—quite surprisingly—based on a better grasp of the ideas of soul and God in Christianity and how they led to modern science.

The contrast between Christian and Vedic views of the soul is that between the idea of independent individuals and that of simultaneous identity and difference between individuals. If these theological differences of personal identity are grasped, then the differences in the description of the material world resulting from a self-ideology in religion become easy.

This article discusses the differences between the ideas of soul and God as they are found in Vedic philosophy and Christianity and how these two ideas lead to radically different conceptions about matter. The modern scientific conceptions of matter are based on the Christian doctrines of soul and God, and a different scientific conception of matter is possible based on the Vedic doctrine of soul and matter. This article describes those differences.

The Evolution of Vedānta Philosophy

Before we get into the discussion about the differences between the Christian and Vedic conceptions of soul and God, let us spend some time understanding the Vedic conception of soul and God, and how it has evolved in Vedānta.

The most fundamental idea in Vedānta philosophy, beginning with Śri Rāmānuja Āchārya, is that the soul and God are not one and not completely different. Śri Rāmānuja described the soul as a property of an object, where God is the object, and the soul is the property. He also distinguished between two kinds of properties, which he called chit and achit, and identified them as soul and matter. The implication of the object-property relationship was that soul and matter have no independent existence apart from God. Rather, they are always tied to God, just like a property of an object is tied to the object.

We have to grasp the novelty of this thesis in the context of the philosophy of Śri Shankara Āchārya, who had made an absolute distinction between Brahman and māyā. He identified the individual soul as a combination of Brahman and māyā and claimed that if Brahman separates from māyā, then the individuality of the soul merges into Brahman because that individuality is caused by māyā. This merger of all individuality into Brahman by the removal of material conditioning is called the doctrine of Advaita Vedānta.

Aside from rejecting the idea of this merger into Brahman, Śri Rāmānuja Āchārya also rejected the separation of matter from Brahman. Most people today may not appreciate this idea enough as they think that God is separate from matter. That separation is the philosophy of Śri Shankara Āchārya. However, in the philosophy of Śri Rāmānuja Āchārya, matter is also tied, bound, or attached to Brahman, quite like a property to an object.

The idea of the soul as a property of God leads to some problems. One of these problems is that the material body is also a (temporary) property of the soul and it is a (permanent) property of God. The technical issue is: How can the achit property (the body) become the property of the chit property (the soul)? If instead the body is not a property of the soul, then how can we describe the worldly association between the soul and the body?

For example, if weight and height are two properties of a table, then how can weight become the property of height, such that we would say that this height is heavy? The impossibility of such a view makes this position seemingly false. Of course, such a problem doesn’t arise if we conceive properties in terms of sensations. For example, if color and taste are two properties of an apple, then taste can become the property of color, such that we can say that the color is sweet. Qualitative properties can be attached to other properties, not just to objects. Therefore, the argument of Śri Rāmānuja Āchārya is correct, however, it seems false if we think in terms of physical properties.

To solve this problem, a revision to the relationship between soul and God stated that the soul is actually a part of God, not a property. And the relation between the soul and the body is the relation between two parts. Just like you can hold your legs by your hands, similarly, the soul can be caught in the body due to a relation between two parts. Even this position, however, leads to some problems. For instance, if a part of my body—e.g., my hands were burnt—then I as the whole person would also be suffering. This would mean that one person’s suffering would be the suffering of everyone, including God’s suffering. For example, if the material body is burnt, then a part of God has been burnt. Just as burning of the hand causes pain to the person who owns that body, similarly, any material change would change God, and God must therefore be suffering due to these changes. Likewise, the parts of my body—e.g., my hands—cannot act except under the direction of the whole. That would, however, imply that the soul must not have free will.

Then, to solve the problem of God’s suffering and the soul’s free will, another Vedānta doctrine stated that the soul and God are completely separate. This too leads to some problems. For instance, if soul and God are eternally separate, then how can God be considered the cause of all causes? How can He be the creator and controller of everything? Instead, all individual entities (material and spiritual) must be completely independent of each other.

In this way, the evolution of Vedānta doctrines has been problematic. Either there is no individuality, and therefore soul and God must not exist—then, we can only acknowledge the reality of Brahman and reject the individuality of soul and God. Or, soul and God exist, but there is no conception of soul and God that is consistent with all the things stated in the Vedas, namely:

  1. God is the creator and He creates everything from Himself,
  2. The soul and the world are in one sense part of God,
  3. And yet, if the soul suffers, then God doesn’t suffer; if the material body is burnt, then God’s body is not burnt,
  4. Matter works under the control of God
  5. The soul must also work under the direction of God, and
  6. This devotion between soul and God is the pinnacle of religion.

Alternative Vedānta Interpretation

All these problems in previous Vedānta interpretations lead to the necessity for a new interpretation, even to explain, understand, and elaborate on the relationship between the soul and God. These are also the issues that the book Conceiving the Inconceivable tries to address. It solves the abovesaid problems in the previous interpretations, by which all Vedic statements can be accepted as true, without creating an inherent contradiction.

The essence of the solution, shown in the above book, is a semantic view in which soul and matter are part of God, and yet, different from God. This is consistent with the goal of Vedānta beginning with Śri Rāmānuja Āchārya, that soul and God are not one and not completely different. The Vedānta Sutra speaks of this property as Bhedābheda or simultaneous oneness and difference. Since no Vedānta position has thus far been able to explain how this oneness and difference is possible (without contradicting some or other Vedic statement), therefore, a new interpretation of Vedānta is necessary.

We can understand this semantic conception of reality by using two concepts—one abstract and the other contingent. The abstract idea is the whole, and the contingent idea is a part. There are infinite such concepts, but for illustration, we can use two such ordinary concepts. A cow is a mammal, but a mammal is not a cow. A chair is furniture, but furniture is not a chair. This type of identity and difference applies to universals or concepts. Then, another kind of identity and difference appears in the case of individuals. Again, there is a whole individual and a part individual. For instance, God is a soul but the soul is not God. By pleasing God, I am pleased, but by pleasing myself God is not pleased. This type of identity and difference applies to individuals. Finally, the third kind of identity and difference appears in the case of relationships due to which we can say that a father is always a man, but a man is not always a father. This identity and difference manifest in the different roles enacted by individuals, such that the same person is sometimes a father, sometimes an employee, sometimes a citizen, sometimes a son, and so on. When he is not exhibiting fatherhood, we cannot say that he is not a father. In such cases, the person is a father and yet not a father.

The essence of the semantic understanding is grasping these three kinds of identities and differences. And if these three forms of Bhedābheda are understood, then all problems in Vedānta are resolved. Now, we can say that God is the whole, and the soul is the part. But since the soul is also different from God, therefore, when the soul suffers then God doesn’t suffer. However, if God is pleased, then the soul is also pleased. Thereby, God is also a soul, and yet, a soul is not God. The soul has to work for God’s pleasure, and that is also the soul’s pleasure. And this is the highest understanding of religiosity.

The Christian Concept of Soul and God

While the Vedānta system has been trying to explain the identity-and-difference between soul and God, Christianity has relied exclusively on the difference between soul and God. In Christianity, only Jesus as the son of God is “in Christ”. Everyone else is separate from God. This creates a problem: Why should Jesus be the only son of God? Why can’t everyone else in the world be a son or daughter of God? Similarly, if God is our creator, but we are not the son or daughter of God, then we are effectively disowned children. Christianity asks the disowned child, who is not accepted as the son or daughter of God, to worship God. Why should a disowned child, who God doesn’t consider His child, worship the father? There is seemingly a clear paradox between “our Father in heaven” and the idea that Jesus is the only son of God. However, since Christianity insists that only Jesus is “in Christ” hence a distinction between soul and God is created, although there is no distinction between Jesus and Christ. This distinction is at the root of many other problems.

Then, God creates the material world ex nihilo—i.e., from nothing—rather than from Himself. Therefore, how the material world appears is problematic. One consequence of this problem is that evil exists in the world, but evil could not exist in God. So, what is the origin of evil in the world? Not only by the ex nihilo creation something is created out of nothing, but that something now has properties that did not exist in God. Why would God create an evil world when He was creating the world from nothing, so there was no necessity for the world to have any evil in it. He could have created the world without any evil. Since God created an evil world, therefore, He must be evil.

Thus, by emphasizing the difference between God and His creations—soul and matter—rather than an identity-and-difference, deep theological problems are created but Christianity has not been eager to solve them. Christianity rather takes the difference doctrine for granted and advances it. The advancement is that since the soul and God are different from each other, therefore, all the souls are also different from each other. Similarly, because matter and God are different from each other, therefore, different objects in matter are also different from each other. This gives rise to the idea of radical individuality by which the material world is comprised of independent particles and various living entities are independent of each other. This radical independence now creates everything else in modern thinking. For example, a society is comprised of independent individuals, who must compete with each other for their selfish interests, and the only cooperation between them is through contracts. Likewise, even though material particles are independent of each other, they have a contractual relationship between them established by some “natural laws”. The only difference between soul and matter is that matter follows the laws without understanding them, while the soul understands these laws and then follows them. Since the soul can understand the laws, it can change the laws it creates, and the understanding of natural laws if they are proven false. That ability to change the contractual laws, and the understanding of the natural laws, define the soul’s free will (even as the contract binds the soul, the ability to change the contract creates freedom). Since the soul’s free will is eternal, therefore, a continuous evolution of social laws and the understanding of laws in science is not spiritually detrimental. Anything not spiritually detrimental is not encumbered by the Church. Thus the possibility to be ignorant and immoral is rationalized as “free will”.

Semantic vs. Physical Views of Reality

The physical conception of the material world has thus originated in the idea of a difference between God and matter. The soul’s power to dominate matter has emerged out of the idea of a difference between soul and matter (the soul has free will, but matter has no free will). And the contractual relationship between soul and God has emerged out of the difference between God and soul. Through these three kinds of differences, there is so much emphasis given to the difference, that their identity is completely ignored.

In contrast, in Vedic philosophy, the relationship between soul and God is not contractual because the soul is a part of God, and has to serve unquestioningly. God has not disowned His child. Rather, the child has abandoned the father. This child cannot exploit material nature because matter is also a part of God. In fact, matter is the mother through which the father gives the child a material body. So, the soul exploiting matter or trying to dominate the material world is like the child trying to dominate its mother. The soul must have a loving relationship with other souls because these souls are parts of God. Thus, without collapsing the distinction between soul, God, and matter, an identity between them is posited, which not only changes religion, but also science, sociology, economics, and politics.

To understand this simultaneous identity-and-difference, a semantic conception of reality is required in which there are three kinds of Bhedābheda—universality, individuality, and contextuality. If we don’t accept this semantic conception, then we might be in difference—i.e., the Christian conception of matter, soul, and God. However, if we accept the Bhedābheda philosophy, which posits simultaneous oneness and difference, then we must change not just religion, but also science, economics, politics, and sociology. Therefore, the semantic conception of reality is necessarily tied to Bhedābheda, just as religion or the relation between soul and God are tied to Bhedābheda.

Christianity, Advaita, and Bhedābheda

Many Christians are presently frustrated with the radical difference between soul, God, and matter, and they seek solace in Advaita which collapses all these differences. There is always the possibility to go from an extreme conception of difference to an extreme conception of identity. If one makes that transition, then one can say that everyone is “in Christ” although the new term would be “in Brahman”. Thereby, everyone would be just like Jesus, and they can be just like God, as Jesus is God in Christianity. That solution to the problems of difference has become very popular at present.

However, with this radical oneness, which lies at the opposite extreme of radical difference, we cannot formulate a science, sociology, economics, and politics. The ideology of radical difference can produce a science because we can at least formulate laws, contracts, properties, and individualities. However, the ideology of radical identity cannot produce all these things because we have no basis on which to explain why there are many things, how they interact, why they interact, and the results of those interactions.

Therefore, there is a third alternative of Bhedābheda which is identity-and-difference, and it avoids the problems created by the extremes of either identity or difference. The trouble is that if someone is inclined toward difference, then they are not going to understand the ideology of identity-and-difference. For instance, they will continue to speak about soul and God as two different entities, but they will also continue to think of science, sociology, economics, and politics in the same way as they were thinking of these subjects based on the religious ideology of radical difference and individuality. Conversely, if someone is inclined toward identity, then they will find all these subjects—e.g., science, economics, politics, and sociology—as an utter waste of time, as their goal is the destruction of identity.

Thereby, two extreme reactions to Bhedābheda are created. At one end, are those imbued with the idea of radical difference and individuality, and they fail to see why a semantic view is needed; they might say that all this semanticism is false, imaginary, or unsupported by Vedic scriptures, although they cannot explain Bhedābheda in any other way. Without explaining Bhedābheda they cannot teach the science of the relation between soul and God to intelligent people. Instead, people will either move toward radical individualism, materialism, and atheism, or its opposite—the dissolution of difference, identity, and individuality into impersonalism.

At the other extreme, are those apathetic to a scientific understanding of reality because science is only about matter, matter is separate from God, whereas the soul is nearly identical or identical to God. These people also cannot appreciate Bhedābheda and see how the material world is also part of God, created from God, and dissolved into God. Their rejection of Bhedābheda can now lead to oneness with God, and while they espouse devotion to God, they remain unaware of the complex characteristics of God. Their impersonalism is translated into a philosophical simplicity that is useless in the real world. They can espouse religion as a subject that is based on pure faith, but that doesn’t appeal to an intelligent person. The unintelligent people who take to religion can practice it as a fanatic devotion to God.

Bhedābheda Entails the Semantic View

The principle of Bhedābheda is not limited to matter. It applies to everything—soul, God, and matter. In matter, Bhedābheda means that the parts are identical and separate from the whole. For instance, you cannot say that an individual is separate from society, and you cannot say that the individual is identical to society. In terms of material objects, you cannot say that the leg of the chair is separate from the chair, and you cannot say that the leg is identical to the chair. Finally, in religion, we cannot say that the soul is separate from God, and we cannot say that the soul is identical to God. The logic, system of reasoning, conceptual background, and the worldview that we use to understand matter in science therefore also apply to religion.

Therefore, it is not incorrect to say that modern science has emerged from an individualistic and separated idea about the soul and God, which was then extended to matter to produce modern science, sociology, economics, and politics. That is the ideology of radical difference, individuality, self-centrism, and beneficial contracts. While we can collapse individuality and contracts to conceive oneness, that would also not be completely satisfying.

The ideal conclusion must be Bhedābheda which requires semantic thinking, which requires radical changes in the understanding of the material world, and that overhaul of science would then reflect within religion too.

The philosophy of devotion is that when the soul suffers then God is not suffering. However, if God is pleased, then the soul is also pleased. How can we have it both ways unless we say that there is an identity between soul and God when it comes to happiness and a difference between soul and God when it comes to suffering? If there is a radical difference between soul and God, then one person’s happiness must be independent of the other person’s happiness and devotion would be unnecessary. However, if there is a radical identity between soul and God, then the suffering of the soul must also be the suffering of God. Thereby, God must also be poor, fallen, conditioned by the material world, suffering in a material body, and thus no longer God.

Bhedābheda Requires a Semantic Logic

To understand, teach, practice, and perfect the philosophy of devotion, one has to perfect the ideology of Bhedābheda. And that means rejecting the extremes of radical difference and radical identity. Since these two logical extremes have to be rejected, the solution seems logically impossible. After all, how can two things be neither identical nor different? This is a logical inconceivability in the sense that Bhedābheda is beyond logic, and Śri Chaitanya, therefore, prepended Bhedābheda with Achintya.

But what seems beyond logic can be logical, if we change the view of reality upon which this logic is based. The modern concept of logic is founded on the ideology of radical difference. In this logic, two things have identity only if they are the same thing. Thereby, if the soul is not identical to God, then the soul must be completely separate from God. Impersonalism also operates under the same logic and it says: For me to be happy, everyone must be happy, and that is only possible if we collapse the distinction between all individuals because I cannot make anyone happy unless I am them.

Thus the doctrines of both radical separation and radical identity operate under the same logic of either identity or difference. Thereby, a person accustomed to one can move to another with relative ease; at least, a logically inconceivable position of simultaneous identity-and-difference is not involved in the move. In that sense, the ideologies of radical identity and difference have more in common with each other than with Bhedābheda. But those who come from a background of separation think that Bhedābheda means separation between soul and God. And those with a background of identity think that Bhedābheda means the identity of soul and God. Factually, neither position is correct, but because the positions of radical identity and difference conflate Bhedābheda with their position, therefore, they fail to see the radical implications of identity-and-difference. Even if Bhedābheda is repeatedly demarcated from the other Vedānta positions, most people surmise that all these doctrinal differences pertain to soul and God, and have little to do with the present world. Specifically, the material world cannot be inconceivable; only the love of God is inconceivable. In this way, the philosophy of identity-and-difference is often neglected, misinterpreted, and ignored.

The fact is that identity-and-difference apply to everything, including material objects. And that makes this world as inconceivable as the relationship between the soul and God. The problems of inconceivability have come to the forefront in atomic theory, because it requires a conception of the parts that are not separate from each other, and yet not identical to each other, which is possible only if we postulate the reality of a whole separately from the parts, and then identity-and-difference between the whole and the part.

The new problem is that we need a system of logic that describes reality as meanings, rather than physical entities. Physical entities can either be identical or different; meanings can be simultaneously one and different. This is the genesis of the problem of semanticism in science: We need to use Bhedābheda to describe matter, which is inconceivable in physical thinking, and semantic thinking is the only way to make this idea scientific (otherwise, it will remain inconceivable and unscientific). The Vedic scriptures restrict themselves to Bhedābheda as they are not conditioned by the modern conceptions of identity and difference. Both the ideology of radical difference and radical identity are relatively recent inventions. Once we are conditioned by this type of thinking, then identity-and-difference seems illogical. For a mind conditioned to such logic, a change in logic is essential.

Why Bhedābheda is Difficult

However, this change is not trivial, because even the most learned people hold logic and arithmetic sacred. Understanding Bhedābheda means rejecting both ideas. For example, because 5 follows 1, therefore, 5 is produced from 1 and whatever is produced from 1 is included inside 1. Thereby, 5 is included inside 1. You might think that 1 is smaller than 5, so how can 5 be inside 1? And the answer is that the bigger number is a smaller meaning because numerous individual entities we count by numbers are parts of the whole that comes first. This also means that you can add any number to 1, and the result would still be 1 because 1 already contains all numbers. Adding other numbers to 1 is like a student repeating the information received from a teacher back to the teacher; that is not going to make the teacher more knowledgeable.

Quantity addition depends on the idea that all individuals are equal. For example, if we add 5 things, then we assume that the things being added are equally individual and hence the result is 5. One thing is not a partial individual and the other thing is not a fuller individual. They are all equally individual. But this idea is false. God is a big individual and we are small individuals. Thereby, all individuals are not equal, and if we add five things, and one of those things is God, then the result is only 1 thing. Arithmetic, therefore, depends on the assumption that all individuals are equal. If instead, we understand that all individuals are not equal, then quantitative addition fails. The equality of individuality is a principle we get from religion, and that principle then propagates into the study of the material world.

If instead individuality is qualitative, then some individual is also a superior quality which makes them a bigger person. If we strip the qualities from the person, then each individual becomes equal. Thereby, quantitative addition is the consequence of stripping persons of their qualitative individuality.

I’m making all these points to illustrate how revolutionary the identity-and-difference way of thinking is that it requires us to discard conventional logic and arithmetic. All these rejections are based on the ideas of the self.

The illustration of this fact in religion is that if you add all the tables, chairs, stars, planets, houses, animals, humans, etc. in zillions of universes, then the result would be one thing–God. God is not huge in size. He looks just like we look. And yet, everything is a fraction of God. So long as we are conditioned to arithmetic addition as the idea of whole and part, we can never understand how God can be a gurgling baby in an affectionate mother’s arms, and yet a physically bigger mother would be a part of His baby-like person. Then what to speak of millions of universes being a part of God. All these things are possible only if we can give up mundane ideas of logic and arithmetic-driven notions of bigness. At the least, the Sāñkhya and Bhedābheda philosophies are inconceivable because are we conditioned to logic and arithmetic.

To understand all these things, we have to move over from quantities to qualities. Semanticism means thinking in terms of qualities. God is the original quality. And if we add up all the qualities in all the universes and their components then the result would be one quality–God. In terms of qualities, all these universes embody the partial qualities of God, and so they are parts of God. That has nothing to do with “size”. Rather, “size” simply means infinite minor quality variations within a narrow subset of qualities. The greater the granular differences within the narrow subset of qualities, the “bigger” is the universe. Therefore, a huge universe can be created from one pore of hair on God’s body. That universe elaborates the details which are summarized and are innately present within one pore of hair on God’s body. Since the universe can be compressed inside the pore of a hair on God’s body, therefore, all quantitative thinking along with the logic of separated things must be thrown away. That logic of separate things, which then leads to the idea of arithmetic addition is a hindrance in understanding qualitative addition.

The point is simple. Any intelligent person is likely to ask: How can God be a baby in a mother’s arms? Isn’t the mother bigger than the baby, so the mother is likely to produce the baby rather than the baby to produce the mother? Isn’t the mother temporally prior to the child? How can a universe be created from the pores of God’s body? How can God appear in this world looking like a human, and yet be the origin of everything? How can the source of everything be inside the thing produced from the source? I would not be exaggerating if I said that there are millions of such questions. Thousands of years are required to even compile all these questions. But all of these questions have one answer: Think in terms of qualities, use the Bhedābheda system of reasoning, and you can answer all the questions yourself.

The Simplicity of Vedānta Philosophy

Factually, Bhedābheda, semantic thinking, and Vedānta are identical to each other. Bhedābheda requires a change in logic, which is the foundation of whole-part thinking, and semantic thinking makes whole-part thinking viable because it helps us overcome its logical contradictions. Thereby, Vedānta means the conclusion of all knowledge, Bhedābheda is that thesis within the Vedānta system which reconciles all seemingly contradictory Vedic statements, and semantic thinking is that thesis by which Bhedābheda can be understood without creating logical paradoxes. The difficulties we have with semantic thinking are difficulties in visualizing Bhedābheda philosophy.

Vedānta, as the summary of knowledge, can be stated as follows: Think of everything in terms of whole-part logic. God is the biggest whole, and hence whole-part thinking applies to God and soul. However, chairs and tables are also smaller wholes with parts. Therefore, the whole-part philosophy also applies to chairs and tables. Thereby, the principles of Vedānta apply to God, the soul, and the material world. If we can only understand whole-part thinking, then we have known everything that is to be known.

At present, we reduce the whole to parts, or dissolve the parts in the whole, or subtract a part to reduce the whole, or add the parts to increase the whole. But what we need is the whole that divides into parts, the parts separate from the whole, and yet that the whole is not reduced. These parts are neither entirely separate from the whole, nor are they fully identical to the whole.

Such is the conception of the self in Vedic philosophy. With this sophisticated understanding of the self, we can change the understanding of everything else, because the whole-part way of thinking applies to everything, not just to the relation between the soul and God. Modern science is developed on a separated existence of the soul in Christianity. And a Vedic science can follow the principle of integrated existence of the soul as part of God. The simple difference between separated and integrated soul is responsible for all subsequent ideological differences. Just as a separated thinking of the soul evolved into modern science, likewise, an integrated thinking can evolve into a different science. That science, because it uses the system of whole-part thinking, is perfectly applicable to everything, including religion.

Mistakes in Consciousness-Based Science

Many people like to say that modern science is based on the rejection of consciousness when the truth is that modern science is based on consciousness, although that consciousness has been contaminated by the idea of separated individualism in Christianity. Once that contamination enters the consciousness, then over time, consciousness claims that the consciousness doesn’t exist. This is because when one pursues radical individualism, then material nature destroys our freedom. Material nature is designed to disprove our radical individualism by depriving us of control over our lives and thereby the ideas of choice and freedom. When we lose freedom then it seems that we are helpless, and have no choice. Without choice, there can be no soul and without soul, there is no need for God. Thereby, the simple sequence produced from radical individualism is: (a) loss of freedom, (b) rejection of choice, (c) rejection of soul, and (d) rejection of God. When we reach the stage of atheism, then we can keep talking about consciousness, but it doesn’t matter because we cannot perceive the existence of choice and freedom. Now, consciousness is also understood as a material phenomenon. If instead, we do see some choice, then the contamination in consciousness pushes us to exploit the opportunities in the world for individualistic ends.

Therefore, it is false to say that modern science is not based on consciousness, and hence we need a role for consciousness in science. The fact is that modern science is also based on consciousness, but those notions came out of the contaminated ideas of the soul in Christianity, and that contamination is destroying the ideas of soul, God, and religion over time. The need, therefore, is not consciousness but pure consciousness.

In the Śrīmad Bhagavatam, it is stated that God divides Himself by Himself to create the contaminated consciousness of the soul. God is the whole, and the undivided contamination is His Sakti. God unites with this undivided contamination, which is called the sexual intercourse of Shiva and Shakti, which then produces parts of the contamination as the children of Shiva and Shakti. The soul chooses one such child contamination produced by Shiva and Shakti as its personal identity, and the Sakti then chokes and stifles this identity, which the soul considers its own strangulation. It is like looking at a drama, identifying with a character, then seeing the character being choked, and feeling helpless to conclude that we have no choice. This strangulation of the contaminated identity is as much a byproduct of the contamination as the original idea of independence. The contamination is evolving from one state to another, and the soul is being continuously dragged in the process.

God creates atheism so that we can play with fire and be burned by it. God is not just evil, but He is the greatest type of evil there is. And yet, He uses evil to cure us of evil. You need a scalpel to remove the pus in a wound. The pus is evil and the scalpel is evil, and God creates both. However, we initially enjoy the pus, and later suffer the scalpel. If we did not accept the pus, then there would be no need for the scalpel. Therefore, the material world is fully evil in one sense (except when God and His pure devotees appear in this world to cure the evil), and in another, some evil is the cure for another evil.

Pure Consciousness and Perfect Science

Therefore, it is not enough to talk about the role of consciousness in science. It is more important to talk about the correct idea of consciousness because by that correct idea we can understand simultaneous oneness and difference, and then everything else in analogy to the self. Therefore, atheistic and spiritual sciences are equally based on consciousness. They are only founded on different types of consciousness with different self-ideologies.

Ultimately, the self is always the basis of any worldly manifestation of an idea or thing, and since there are so many worlds, therefore, they are also based on different ideas of the self. The correct diagnosis of modern science is that it begins in a contaminated consciousness and then manifests infinite byproducts. By that analysis, we can say that pure science can also begin in pure consciousness, and then manifest infinite byproducts.

Therefore, before we can change science, we must articulate a different understanding of the self. By changing the conception of the self, which is based on true and eternal love and devotion, a new science can manifest naturally. The mechanism of producing the world from consciousness is already there. We just have to change the consciousness from which the present science was created in order to produce another science.

All our creations are portraits of ourselves, and we create such portraits to know ourselves. The world is a mirror, and it can reflect anything. But what it reflects is who we are. The science that we see today is the proverbial man in the mirror produced as the reflection of a man outside the mirror. The man in the mirror will change if the man outside the mirror changes. Likewise, to change science, we need to alter the self-ideology that created science.

Cite this article as:

Ashish Dalela, "The Self as the Basis for Science," in Shabda Journal, November 27, 2021,