How Airplanes Fly

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The Problem Presented by Flying Objects

At present, there is no clear understanding of how airplanes fly. The Scientific American article No One Can Explain Why Planes Stay in Air details the problems associated with flight.

In this article, I will talk about an alternative theory of flight, rooted in the Vedic description of the three modes of material nature called guna of Prakṛti. I will connect these to some other ordinary phenomena—such as the changing weight of a person during the course of a day—and then talk about why weight is not an independent property of an object. It is one of the several mutually entangled properties such that changing one property changes many others.

The brief summary of this solution is that increasing the speed of some shapes reduces their weight, and they fly. But that doesn’t happen for all shapes. Contrary to modern scientific principles, speed, shape, and weight are not independent properties. Each property is entangled with other properties to varying extents such that a change to one property changes other properties to varying extents. This is called Bhedābheda, or that two things are distinct but inseparable. Inseparability means that they cannot be changed independently. Speed, shape, and weight are distinct properties that cannot be changed independently. By changing the shape of the airplane, we can shorten or elongate the runway it needs to take off.

The Theory Underlying Bernoulli’s Principle

The problem, as the article points out, is not the mathematical equation called Bernoulli’s Principle. As the article says: “There is little, if any, serious disagreement as to what the appropriate equations or their solutions are. The objective of technical mathematical theory is to make accurate predictions and to project results that are useful to aeronautical engineers engaged in the complex business of designing aircraft. But by themselves, equations are not explanations, and neither are their solutions.”

The author makes a distinction between prediction and explanation. An equation makes a prediction, and it can be verified. But there is a deeper question—Why this equation and not another? We solve that problem by presenting a causal mechanism. For instance, heavy objects fall toward the ground. The speed and acceleration of that fall can be measured and predicted using an equation. But the success of that prediction doesn’t tell us why heavy objects fall toward the ground. For that, Newton postulated a gravitational theory in which the earth attracts objects, which is responsible for our experience of “heaviness”, and gravitation theory is the explanation of falling objects.

For the flight of an airplane, there is an equation called Bernoulli’s Principle. It says: When the speed of a fluid increases, the pressure exerted by that fluid decreases. Textbooks on aerodynamics explain flight by a wing that is more convex at the top than at the bottom. The textbook says that the air atop the wing takes the same time to traverse the more convex surface as compared to the air below the wing which is less convex. An airlift is created, it is claimed, due to the different velocities above and below the wing. This is like saying that two friends—identical in all respects—run slower and faster to arrive at their destination at the same time while passing through shorter and longer routes.

The Problems of Bernoulli’s Principle

There are three problems with this explanation. First, as the author of the above article notes, airplanes can fly upside down when according to the textbook explanation, an upside-down plane should fall to the ground because the force that was lifting it earlier should now be pushing it downward. Second, airplanes whose wings don’t have different convexity on the top and bottom surfaces still fly when they should never fly according to the above explanation. Third, for air to flow faster on the more convex surface, air must “know” that it is flowing over a more convex surface, just as the air flowing slower on the less convex surface must “know” that is flowing over a less convex surface. Since the air is not conscious, hence, it cannot know the convexity of the surface. The convexity of the surface exerts no forces or pressures on the air. Without knowing the convexity, air cannot change its speed. Therefore, the postulated variable speed of the air above and below the wing has no causal explanation.

Due to these problems, (a) convexity is not necessary because wings with the same convexity on both sides still fly, (b) convexity is not sufficient because planes with convex wings fly can upside down just as well as they are flying upright when inversion of the wing should force the plane to fall to the ground, and (c) the explanation of lift based on wing convexity is not rational because it requires air to “know” if it is flowing over a more or less convex surface, but there is no account of this “knowledge”.

When I first encountered Fluid Mechanics in 1991 during my undergraduate course, I got hung up on these problems. Everyone else attending the same course with me was solving Bernoulli’s Equation but my mind was screaming that something is wrong. I did not pay attention to the course due to these issues. Hence, I got an F in the course, and I had to sit through a summer repeat, after which I managed to get a D because I still could not accept an equation without understanding the underlying causal mechanism. I have been ruining my grades—and judgment in others’ eyes—throughout my life by asking questions that did not seem to bother others. Eventually, I went in search of answers to those questions myself. I realized that indoctrination is a default feature of modern science. There are equations that work, but nobody knows why. Their explanations are neither necessary, nor sufficient, nor rational.

Examples of Flight in the Vedic Tradition

I hope the problem is sufficiently clear to everyone so that I can move on to more interesting topics. That topic is what “heaviness” really is, and how things become “light”. Even before I get into that topic, it is worth noting that there are two mystic powers called Garima and Laghima in the yoga tradition that talks about increasing one’s heaviness (called Garima) and increasing one’s lightness (called Laghima).

The best-known example of these mystic powers is Hanuman, the great devotee of Lord Ramachandra. The Mahabharata describes how Bhima found Hanuman lying in a forest and Bhima asked him to move because it was considered disrespectful to walk over a person. Hanuman then said: I’m too old and not able to move; why don’t you move me? Bhima then tried to move Hanuman’s tail, but he could not, because it had become too heavy. This is Garima. Likewise, Hanuman flew to Ravana’s Lanka from a place called Rameswaram in South India. There he met mother Sita, exchanged messages, burned Lanka, and flew back to Rameswaram. This is Laghima.

One of Prabhupāda’s disciples tells a story of how Prabhupāda would lock himself in his room while translating books. The door had a latch with a hole for inserting a key. From outside the room, the disciple could occasionally hear some ecstatic sounds. One day, out of curiosity, the disciple peeked into a hole in the door just to check what was going on inside. He saw Prabhupāda floating in the air. He mentioned this to Prabhupāda later, and he responded: “I was just checking how Kṛṣṇa’s energies are working, but you should not speak about it to anyone”. Later on, in some purports, Prabhupāda would write: “The planets are floating in the sky by Kṛṣṇa’s energy”.

Prabhupāda had all the mystic powers of yogis, but he would hide them. He called the practice of yoga in the West to get such mystic powers “gymnastics” and “nose pressing”. Instead, he would always talk about Kṛṣṇa, sometimes calling Him the greatest mystic yogi because he had experienced extraordinary powers and he knew that Kṛṣṇa has the same powers. One time he talked about the resurrection of Jesus. A yogi can live within his bones. Crucifixion was therefore not death. Jesus was alive when he was crucified. The consciousness was withdrawn into the bones where the pain was not experienced. Then when the body was taken off the cross, the consciousness reverted to the rest of the body, and Jesus walked off the place where he had been buried previously. Advanced yogis knew Prabhupāda’s mystic powers. One time, one of Prabhupāda’s disciples went to Mahesh Yogi to check if Mahesh Yogi would contradict Prabhupāda. Mahesh Yogi sent the disciple back to Prabhupāda telling him that Prabhupāda was the greater yogi, while he was teaching yoga only to prepare others to go to Prabhupāda.

By doing antigravity terrestrial tests (such as by floating in the air), Prabhupāda confirmed what gravity really was, and he applied that understanding to celestial motion. Hence, he would have agreed that celestial and terrestrial mechanics are the same thing. But he would also reject Newton’s idea of gravity. A yogi can increase his heaviness due to Garima, and decrease the heaviness due to Laghima.

The Sāñkhya-Yoga Theory of Weight

Properties of “heaviness” and “lightness” are attributed to touch in Sāñkhya. Properties like heat and cold, hardness and softness, are also attributed to touch (Śrīmad Bhagavatam 3.26.36 says: “Softness and hardness and cold and heat are the distinguishing attributes of touch, which is characterized as the subtle form of air.”). Likewise, there are properties of roughness and smoothness, attributed to touch.

The element responsible for the sensation of touch is called vāyu, translated as “air”, but it is prior to “fire” responsible for the sensation of vision. The things we perceive can be heavy or light, hot or cold, hard or soft, and rough or smooth, but they are exclusively air only when we cannot see them. If perceived things are visible in addition to being heavy or light, hot or cold, hard or soft, and rough or smooth, then the visible properties (like shape, size, and color) are attributed to fire, while heaviness, heat, hardness, and roughness are attributed to air. Thus, a hard thing may not be visible. Something that generates friction may not be visible. Everything that feels hot may not be visible.

Thus, heaviness, or what Newton called “gravity”, is due to air that cannot be seen and yet it exerts a force. If the perceived thing is visible, as in the case of celestial bodies like the Sun and the Moon, then the visible component is due to fire and the heaviness is due to air. An enormous force exists in the universe as air, and yet, it cannot be seen. This is presently called “dark energy” and “dark matter”. It exerts a force and feels hot and yet it cannot be seen. The modern concept of a “black hole” which exerts immense force and is yet not visible can also be attributed to air. But a black hole can be very hot and yet not be visible because heat and light are properties of different senses.

In Newtonian mechanics, a particle has mass but no heat. The property of heat has been treated in classical physics as the property of a collection of particles, rather than individual particles, unlike in Sāñkhya, where heat is the property of touch, along with heaviness. Classical physics postulated the immutability of particles based on the hardness of things when hardness just means that it is harder to break things into smaller parts, and not that they are immutable. Newton assumed that we can see objects with heaviness, leading to the present conundrums of “dark energy” and “dark matter”, which are “dark” because they cannot be seen and yet they exert immense force. Then, quantum mechanics coalesced heat and light into photons, when heat is about the sense of touch and light is about the sense of sight.

Thus, modern science has created immense confusion by (a) equating heaviness to immutability, (b) separating heat from heaviness, (c) merging heat and light, and (d) assuming that heaviness must pertain to visible objects. Elementary principles of sense perception have been violated in modern physics from the outset, which subsequently result in numerous problems, perplexities, and contradictions.

The Sāñkhya-Yoga Theory of Modes

The distinctions between heaviness and lightness, or between hot and cold, are the results of the addition of modes of nature—called sattva, rajas, and tamas—to the sense of touch. Tamas is heavy and hot, rajas is slightly lighter and cooler, whereas sattva is the lightest and coolest.

Modern cosmology transforms the properties of heat and heaviness into the property of distance. For instance, modern cosmology says that the star that is sending us less heat and exerting less gravitational force on us is far from us while the star sending us more heat and exerting greater gravitational force on us is near us. Thereby, things in sattva have a greater distance from us while those in tamas are closer to us. Things in sattva are pushed away and things in tamas are pulled closer. But if our mental attitude changes, and we imbibe sattva, then we will invert these measurements to say that things in sattva are closer to us while things in tamas are farther from us.

The distance to something is changed depending on whether we are in sattva, rajas, and tamas. If we talk about the real distance to things, then we have to talk about how far sattva, rajas, and tamas are from each other, not how far we find them to be based on our state in sattva, rajas, and tamas. This distance measurement requires a person to transcend the three modes. Thus distance objectivity is the result of transcending the modes, and distance subjectivity is the result of being in one of those modes. Distances measured in modern science are the result of tamasic minds. They are not reality. They are the results of interpreting heat and heaviness as proximity vs. interpreting coolness and lightness as greater distance.

When sattva, rajas, and tamas are combined, there is always a dominant-subordinate structure. The three modes are always present but we can flip the order of prominence to create a new property. Thus, we don’t have to change the constitution of anything to make it heavier or lighter, hotter or colder. We can also flip the hierarchy of modes by reorganizing the modes into a new structure. Through that flipping of the hierarchy within the modes, cold can become hot, and heavy can become light. Or vice versa. For example, there is a technique by which we can make our body hot on a winter day and a different technique by which we can make our body cold in summer. We don’t need to add or remove heat externally. We can also flip the order of the modes and change one property into another, including its very opposite.

Thereby, there is no “objective weight of an object”. We can change the order of modes, and the weight will change. It can become lighter or heavier. This problem is seen in all scientific experiments where repetition of the experiment reveals a slightly different value of the property. There are no “constants” of nature. A “kilogram” is not the same kilogram every day. It is changing every moment, but ever so slightly, that most of us cannot notice the difference. If we have an extremely sensitive scale of measurement, then we will get a different result every time we do a measurement. But modern science disregards these changes as “instrument errors” or “environmental variations”.

The Sāñkhya-Yoga Explanation of Flight

Yogis who pursue mystic powers acquire the ability to flip the order of modes such that hot can become cold and cold can become hot, or heavy can become light and light can become heavy. When lightness becomes heaviness, then it is called Garima. When heaviness becomes lightness, then it is called Laghima. This is because the body doesn’t have a fixed weight. Hanuman can make his tail so heavy that Bhima cannot lift it. Hanuman can make his body so light that he can fly in the air just like a piece of cotton.

Weight watchers know that their body weight changes over the course of a day by about a kilogram. Almost always, the weight measured in the morning is less than the weight measured at night because sattva is prominent in the morning and tamas is prominent in the night. The prominence of sattva in the morning makes our body light and the prominence of tamas in the night makes our body heavy. Modes of nature are constantly flipped by the effect of time, due to which our weight changes with time.

In the Vedic tradition, those who wanted to go to heavenly planets would want to die during Uttarāyaṇa or the “upward motion of the sun” while those who wanted to go to demoniac planets would want to die during Dakśhiṇāyaṇa or the “downward motion of the sun”. The upward motion increases sattva and the downward motion increases tamas. The upward motion is spring and the downward motion is autumn. We feel “lightness” when spring arrives and “heaviness” when autumn arrives.

Thus, the effect of modes is used to explain a variety of things—(a) changing weight, (b) changing seasons, (c) changing personalities, and (d) mystic powers such as Garima and Laghima. Most of us cannot change the modes willingly. We rely on the modes being changed as the effect of time. Thereby, as time passes, we automatically get hungry, tired, sleepy, restless, active, aroused, restful, and awake. Those who want to acquire the power to control the modes are advised to control hunger, tiredness, activity, sleep, sexuality, wakefulness, restfulness, and activity. Once a yogi has gained mastery over his bodily changes, he can change the modes voluntarily. Then, he gets all the mystic powers such as Garima and Laghima. He can make his body so heavy that if he punches someone, it will feel like a collision with a speeding car. He can make his body so light that if he collides with someone, the other person will find that to be just like the touch of a feather.

The effect of time on the properties of a thing is not uniform for all things. It varies based on the modes in that thing. For example, in the morning, time makes a kilogram lighter, but the human body has become even lighter, due to which the body becomes lighter relative to the kilogram. If time’s effect was uniform on everything, then the kilogram will always detect the same weight. Likewise, at night, time makes the kilogram heavier, but the human body has become even heavier, due to which the body becomes heavier relative to the kilogram.

This is the fundamental difference between whatever we call a “living thing” and a “dead thing”. Nothing is factually dead. But the variation of properties in a “living thing” is greater than in a “dead thing”. The variation in the weight of a kilogram is small, but the variation in the weight of a human body is large. What varies more is called “living” and what varies less is called “dead”. Factually, even the deadest thing—e.g., a kilogram—is changing its properties with the passing of time. A false concept of objectivity in science under which there are fixed properties of things has created the illusion of dead things, although they are not truly dead. They too are changing like living things, although not as much as living things.

Thus, we can never have universal laws of nature based on measurements and constants because everything is changing relative to each other due to the effect of time. The laws that work today may not work a few centuries from now. The laws that work on one planet, may not work on another planet. The laws that work for one thing may not work for another thing. The laws that work in one combination of things may not work in another combination. Any universal law is false. It is upheld as truth only due to a disregard for minor changes with time, place, situation, and object variation.

Dominant-Subordinate and Balancing

We now have the fundamental principles by which to understand how something becomes heavier or lighter—change the dominant-subordinate structure of modes, and you can change the weight. But before we apply this to airplane flights, we have to discuss the role of prāṇa in making these changes. Once we understand that, then we can apply this process to how the airplane flies in the air.

The process of prāṇa is explained in Sāñkhya through a triad called manas, prāṇa, and vāk. In this case, there is a thought in the mind, which is converted into speech, by the application of prāṇa. This type of prāṇa is called udāna or expansion. Speech is a part of the mind but it lies unmanifest there. By the application of udāna, the thought expands into speech. The converse of this process is called prāṇa when the sound is heard, and it becomes a thought in the mind. If many such things have been heard in the past, and the mind goes from one thought to another successively, it is called vyāna. If as the result of hearing something, we realize that a previously entertained thought was false, then we reject that thought from the mind, and it is called apāna or excretion. Finally, if many things have been heard and assimilated in the mind, then the process of reconciling them into a coherent thought is called samāna or digestion. Finally, as this digested, reconciled, and coherent thought is spoken, it is again udāna.

Prāṇa, therefore, takes five forms, called prāṇa, apāna, udāna, vyāna, and samāna, which are collectively used to educate the mind, cleanse the dirt in the mind, move the mind from one thought to another, reconcile the previously received ideas, and speak the perfectly received ideas for others. Generally, those who haven’t undergone such education, are advised to keep quiet, except for asking genuine questions. That means—use the udāna only for questions, and after prana, apāna, vyāna, and samāna have been used properly, then use udāna in the service of the Lord, not for satisfying the ego. This advice is given so that the other four forms of prāṇa gain prominence to accelerate learning.

If a person reads many books and accumulates many ideas, then he has given prominence to prāṇa. But in that process, his apāna and samāna have been weakened. He cannot digest all those ideas, and he cannot excrete useless ideas. His mind can only wander from one idea to another due to vyāna, and he will keep talking due to udāna, but his mind is already so confused that ingesting more ideas by prāṇa will further confuse the mind because he has lost the ability to digest and excrete. Thereby, in the description of prāṇa, we always talk about the balance between the five prāṇa. This means that as you acquire new ideas, try to reconcile them into a coherent picture. Don’t keep those ideas fragmented, because if you do, then it will be very hard to digest them later on. Your mind will get confused and distracted, and you will not be able to reject the false ideas, nor will you be able to resolve the contradictions. Digestion and excretion are very important for progressive consumption. If we cannot digest and excrete, then we should stop the consumption, and digest and excrete prior.

The Sāñkhya Theory of Ordinary Motion

The vyāna form of prāṇa is commonly seen in what we call “motion”. For example, if we rotate a cube, then we will see its many faces one by one. This vision of faces one after another is just like the mind moving from one thought to another. The rotation of the cube is due to vyāna. Similarly, if we see a person walk by in front of our eyes, we will first see their face, then their side profile, and then their back. We cannot see all these things simultaneously. But we can ingest these images one by one through prāṇa, and digest them into a coherent picture through samāna. During the process of digestion, some things—such as the bag a person is holding in their hand—would be excreted. Finally, as a result of vyāna, prāṇa, samāna, and apāna, a thought will manifest from the mind— “this is a woman” —due to udāna.

Every moving thing is moving within a whole. The earth is one such whole. But there are many smaller wholes, such as a country, city, or house. Movement within this whole is like food moving in the body. At some place, the food is ingested, at another place, it is digested, at another place, it is moved to a new place, at another place it is excreted, and finally, at yet another place the food is used for some expression and expansion. Hence, all five forms of prāṇa are not acting simultaneously. Each of the five prāṇa acts to a greater or lesser extent in a different part of the body.

If we chew on an orange and happen to bite on the bitter orange seed, then we may spit it out, while producing the sound “thooo”. That sound “thooo” is udāna while the bitter orange seed being spat out is apāna. The bitter seed can be spat out without producing the sound “thooo” so the sound is separate from spitting. Some tennis players grunt while returning a backhand or forehand. The grunting is udāna while the backhand or forehand is vyāna. Thus, the five prāṇa can act in all body parts, but selectively and to varying extents based on choice.

The result of the five prāṇa is that a hierarchical inverted tree is constructed in which the whole is the root, and various parts are trunks, branches, twigs, and leaves. The branches, twigs, and leaves are not fixed in one place; they can be moved from one trunk, branch, or twig of the tree to another. When a leaf moves from one twig to another, it becomes subordinate to that twig, while the twig becomes dominant. Meanwhile, the twig may also be moving from one branch to another. The nature of the branch, twig, and leaf will change as they move, so the same thing is not moving. It is changing every moment that it moves. Hence, we describe this “motion” as “change”. Motion means it has moved unchanged. However, change means that it has also been altered in the process of moving.

How the Five Processes Act in an Airplane

For the aircraft, the ingestion of the fuel is prāṇa, the burning of the fuel is samāna, and the excretion of fumes is apāna. These three things happen even when we burn paper or cloth, so these are not unique to the aircraft. The aircraft design plays a role specifically in how two other changes—upward lift and forward motion—are also generated. These are vyāna. The noise created by the engine is udāna.

We can contrast these two processes in an airplane to that in a car. The car also burns fuel and moves forward. The car engine also produces a lot of noise. However, the car doesn’t lift from the road. Thus, the uniqueness of the aircraft is that an additional type of vyāna—called lift—is produced. That lift, as we have discussed, is the result of the reduction in the heaviness of the aircraft due to mode changes.

The movement of the human body is also due to vyāna which has been previously generated and stored due to a process of cooking, eating, digesting, circulating, and excreting. In modern biology, we say that energy has been stored in the body due to which we can move the body. That energy is all the five kinds of prāṇa. Thus, five kinds of prāṇa are used to extract prāṇa from food, store it in the body, and then use it for action. Modern science calls this “energy”, but in Sāñkhya, we divide it into five components.

Thus, when the human body moves, it is due to previously extracted and stored prāṇa. But when an aircraft moves, it is extracting the prāṇa—using prāṇa—from the fuel in the engine. It will be very hard to generate and store enough energy to fly an aircraft using a battery. But the human body stores it because that energy becomes unmanifest in the body and by will, the unmanifest energy is manifest.

The Generation of Lift in an Airplane

So, the question is: What is happening in an aircraft that is reducing its heaviness, while the same thing is not happening in the car? The answer, as you can guess, has something to do with the wings of the aircraft. But as we have discussed earlier, the lift cannot be explained by Bernoulli’s Principle because the lift happens even with flat wings, even if the plane flies inverted, and even when we suppose that the air doesn’t know whether the wing is flat or curved, whether the plane is upright or inverted.

To understand all these things, we have to go back to the manas, prāṇa, and vāk principle in which thought is produced from the mind due to prāṇa. The entire body is just like the mind. The weight of the body is like the thought produced by the mind. And the cause of that production is one or more of the five types of prāṇa. Sāñkhya philosophy describes how both body and mind are produced from three qualities. Qualities in modern science are solely in the mind. But in Sāñkhya they are also the body. Therefore, for Sāñkhya, the body is just like the mind. The body’s properties—such as its weight—are like thoughts of the mind. And these thoughts are produced variously—which means the weight changes—due to the effect of one or more of the five types of prāṇa.

The airplane thus becomes lighter due to the same process by which the mind feels light sometimes. The mind feels light when some form of prāṇa makes sattva prominent. Hence, there is a type of prāṇa that makes the body light. That prāṇa is the cause of sattva’s prominence. Thus, we don’t care about whether the plane is inverted or upright—as is necessary for Bernoulli’s Principle. We don’t care if the wings are curved or flat—as is necessary for Bernoulli’s Principle. We don’t care if the air knows the plane is upright or inverted, the wings are flat or curved—as is necessary for Bernoulli’s Principle. The plane is flying because the vyāna is making sattva prominent. The flight is due to a similar reason our body weighs less in the morning and more in the night and why spring gives lightness and autumn gives heaviness.

Thus, the science of flight can be reduced to vyāna manifesting lightness by making sattva prominent. Sattva is already in the aircraft. So external additions are unnecessary. But under modern science, we don’t know how to make sattva prominent. Hence, we use an engine, which follows a process of prāṇa, samāna, apāna, and udāna, to generate a vyāna, called the aircraft running on the runway. This motion of the aircraft on the runway—otherwise called vyāna—then acts on the aircraft wingspan to lift the plane upward. The vyāna in this case is not an innate property of the aircraft. It is rather generated by the process of prāṇa, samāna, apāna, and udāna in the combustion engine.

The vyāna must increase to a point that it can generate enough lift, which means that the airplane must attain a certain speed before lifting off the runway. It is not necessary for a yogi to run on a runway before he flies in the air because he is using the internal vyāna, not generating it through an engine. Thus, a yogi can fly even without an engine. However, an aircraft needs an engine to fly in the air.

The Process of Manifest and Unmanifest

Every property that a body can ever take is always present in the body but it can be unmanifest. Kṛṣṇa describes in Bhagavad-Gita how childhood, youth, and old age are in the body but manifest one by one due to time and will. Most of us don’t want to get old, but we get old due to the effect of time. But some yogis, such as the Four Kumaras, have the willpower to resist the change effected by time. They always remain 4-year-old boys. Youth and old age are present in their body, but it remains unmanifest. Similarly, lightness and heaviness are equally present in our bodies, but they may manifest one after another.

This process can be reconciled with the previous discussion of flipping the order of modes. When sattva is subordinate and tamas is dominant, and as a result the body is heavy, the reversal of that dominant-subordinate state is always a possibility, which is yet to be realized. When the modes are flipped, heaviness becomes lightness or vice versa. Thereby, we say that the unmanifest has become manifest by a choice. Factually, lightness and heaviness are both possible, but one of them is unmanifest. When the modes are flipped, the unmanifest becomes manifest, and the manifest becomes unmanifest.

The relation between manifest and unmanifest is called duality in Vedic texts, which means when something is seen, something else is hidden. When heaviness is seen, then lightness is hidden. But the process of revealing and hiding can become extremely complicated such that the revelation of one property hides not just its opposite, but also reveals and hides other properties. For instance, when lightness manifests, then heat, roughness, and hardness may also be hidden. Thereby, the transition from heaviness to lightness can also be the change from hot to cold, rough to smooth, and hard to soft.

The Role of Balance and Rationality in Change

Accordingly, the change from one property to another can follow many paths. On some paths, only heaviness is hidden and lightness is revealed. But on another path, this change can be accompanied also by hot becoming cold. On yet another path, the previous change can also be accompanied by hard becoming soft and rough becoming smooth. Path selection is therefore also a choice. While doing one kind of change, how many other changes are being carried out in parallel? That is a path choice.

The soul walks on these paths through its choices. By that process, one initial state can be converted into many final states, depending on the chosen path. There is no universal law that says that (a) if heavy becomes light, then hot must also become cold, or (b) if heavy becomes light, then hot must not become cold. All these rules are mere concoctions created by selectively studying fewer phenomena. The general principle is that many changes can occur simultaneously, depending on the path chosen by will.

The general rule is only that the three modes of nature are mutually opposed. Therefore, if we try to change heaviness to lightness, the change will be temporary and the body will be unstable unless we also change the body from hot to cold. Thus, when a satellite is launched using a rocket, lightness is created by an engine, which is also generating a lot of heat. There is an inner contradiction between lightness and heat—the former is in sattva and the latter is in tamas. Therefore, a satellite launch using a rocket is an unstable and temporary process. Once the satellite reaches its orbit, the engine is shut off, and the body goes from hot to cold, as lightness has been attained, which is a stable state because lightness and coolness are mutually compatible modal states predominant in sattva. If the contradiction between lightness and heat is not resolved during a satellite launch, then the launching rocket can burst into flames and fall to the earth.

All objects, therefore, go from a state of one-mode dominance to a state of multi-mode balance and again to one-mode dominance. The state of one-mode dominance is stable and long-lived while the state of multi-mode balance is unstable and temporary. A stable state is an initial or final state, and the unstable and temporary state is the path connecting the initial and final states. The stable and transitory states can be miniaturized into hop-by-hop movement. For instance, we can stand on both legs for a while, then jump a step forward, and again stand on two legs. Standing on two legs is a stable and long-lived state while jumping between two states is unstable and temporary.

A successful jump requires a careful balance between speed, height, hand and leg curvatures, and body inclination. Acrobats know how to jump from one place to another in many ways, sometimes spinning and rotating without losing balance. If that balance is lost, then the acrobat will fumble in the jump and not reach the intended destination. Likewise, Olympic high- and long-jumpers try to increase the height and length of their flight by creating careful balances between the movements of the different parts of the body. Even a slight decrease in balance reduces the length and height of the jump. A path between two stable states is constructed by carefully balancing multiple modes because it is inherently unstable and transitory. The greater the balance, the greater the achievable “distance” between two states.

Therefore, we cannot go from one state to another through arbitrarily chosen paths. There are many paths to a destination, but not all paths lead to the same destination. Likewise, one of the many paths to a destination is also the shortest, simplest, and easiest path. The choice of a path is therefore not contradictory to rationality. A rational choice will select the shortest, simplest, and easiest path. A less rational choice will choose a longer, more complicated, and harder path. And an irrational choice will select a path that doesn’t lead to the destination. Even irrationality can be described scientifically because it is a choice made out of ignorance of the best possible path.

The Modal Process of Flying an Aircraft

We can now return to the main question: Why does vyāna make the aircraft body light? The simple answer is that the engine heat is tamas, the motion of the aircraft (i.e., vyāna) is rajas, the lightness of the aircraft is sattva, and a new temporary balance between sattva, rajas, and tamas is created when the aircraft flies. When the aircraft is not flying, heaviness is tamas, the stationary engine is tamas, and the stationary aircraft is tamas. Thereby, tamas is dominant, and it can stay in that state for very long. But when the engine is turned on, the stationary state is hidden, the motion state is revealed, and vyāna is created, which then acts on the body of the aircraft, that action then hides heaviness and manifests lightness, to produce a temporary balance between the modes. The shape of the aircraft is an important property for flight because a moving car doesn’t fly due to the absence of wings.

Everything in Bernoulli’s Principle comes down to a simple proposition—speed and weight are mutually contradictory properties created due to rajas and tamas. If the weight increases, speed decreases. If the speed increases, weight decreases. But the reduction in weight is greater for some body shapes—yet another property of the object—than others. This is why cars don’t fly but the addition of wings to that car can make the car fly because the effect of speed on weight is not the same on all shapes even if they weighed the same in a stationary state.

Some shapes lose weight faster with increasing speed than other shapes. Hence, shape, weight, and speed are not independent properties. They are distinct and yet inseparable such that increasing the speed of one shape has a different effect on its weight than increasing the speed of another shape with the same stationary weight. An aircraft and a block of iron may have the same speed and stationary weight. But the aircraft will fly while the block of iron will not, because the antigravity property is not just due to speed and weight but also due to shape.

If changing the shape can change the weight when an object moves, then we can imagine how useless gravitation theory is when it talks about weight as a fixed property of an object independent of its shape and speed. The fact is that weight is not independent of shape and speed. These are mutually entangled and inseparable properties such that changing one of those properties can change all other properties.

The Entanglement of Numerous Properties

Under the postulate of independent properties, we need two independent laws—Newton’s Gravitational Law and Bernoulli’s Principle—to explain more phenomena. The former explains the increasing speed of heavy falling objects while the latter explains the decreasing weight of fast-moving objects.

As we add more properties—body shape, tensile strength, thermal conductivity, electrical conductivity, malleability, and ductility—ever new laws have to be devised to deal with the interaction between various properties because previous theories about each of these properties assumed that they are independent of each other. The fact is that they are not independent. They are all mutually entangled in a hierarchical tree structure of the three modes such that the smallest of changes to the tree structure will generally alter many, if not all, properties at once. By studying entanglement between properties, we realize that there is no such thing as “objective” speed, temperature, weight, shape, tensile strength, thermal and electrical conductivity, malleability, and ductility. These are transient effects of one transient object on another. The reality is the coevolution of properties. That reality is the hierarchical tree structure of the three modes, not the transiently measured quantified and objectified properties.

By understanding that tree structure, we can know which shape and weight will heat up how much at which height and at which speed. The students of Fluid Mechanics could be asked to predict the temperature of the aircraft given some shape, speed, weight, and height. There is no equation for that at present. But we don’t need a new equation for that because the theory for that is still the hierarchical structure of modes. In this way, we can subsume hundreds—if not thousands—of equations into one theory. Students can learn one theory and test it against the problems presented by varied kinds of phenomena. Education will then be cheap, the poorest of people can learn the most complex subjects, and the value in that education will be infinitely greater than learning many subjects by paying a ton of money over many years and then struggling to resolve the contradictions and incompleteness of the various so-called laws in every real-life scenario.

There is no gravitation force acting on a body according to some mathematical equation based on some fixed mass. There is no such thing as an upward force generated by a moving body with a fixed mass. The reality is that mass is itself not conserved. What is not conserved over time cannot be a real property in science. Thus, all physical properties of modern science are fiction. The reality is that the three modes of nature organized in one structure have varying effects on three modes of nature organized in another structure. We call these effects “detector clicks” and “pointer movements”. Then we say: Since this thing clicked or moved, therefore, there must be an objective property called mass or speed. That is the illusion of objectivity, constancy, numerosity, and mathematical equations created by science.

Even if we can formulate such equations, there are outlier phenomena beyond those equations, such as planes flying upside down or without curved wings. Then, even if the equations work in some cases, we still cannot explain exactly why they are working because the causal mechanism involves additional properties—such as air “knowing” the curvature of the wings—which do not exist in the theory.

But the “pragmatist” says: Don’t worry about it. Proclaim your equation as a useful model of reality, and cite those cases where it works, although (a) it doesn’t work in other cases, and (b) even when it works, we don’t know why it works. As more and more properties interact, new equations have to be created. Even the additional equations don’t work always, and when they work, we don’t know why they are working. Thus, progress in science means adding more equations, not knowing why they work or do not work. Anyone who thinks that this is the best method to model reality should get his head examined for missing parts.

The General Principle of Bhedābheda

All reality can be summarized using one word—Bhedābheda—or distinct but inseparable. The shape of human feet precludes the shape of a dog’s face and vice versa. The human body shape is entangled with the properties of other body parts such as hands, legs, ears, lungs, heart, intestines, etc. The smell, taste, and temperature of food are not independent. Some foods smell and taste better when cold while other foods smell and taste better when hot. Food decoration sometimes enhances the flavor and by smelling the flavor of many foods, we can sometimes tell their tastes. This is non-separable distinctness.

Modern science is based on the idea of independent properties. In classical mechanics, these were called position and momentum, and due to independence, any particle could have any position and momentum combination. Independence is necessary for the quantification of reality—we must be able to say that when I measure the mass of an object, it hasn’t increased or decreased due to temperature. If that assumption is false, then knowing one thing about an object requires knowing everything.

This is called the elephant and the five blind men problem in Indian philosophy. To know that something is a leg and not a cylinder, we have to know that it is an elephant. We know that it is an elephant after knowing the trunk, stomach, tail, and stomach. Thus, knowledge of other parts changes the knowledge of each part. Modern science did not want to deal with this problem. So, it postulated that reality is many independent properties, or that you can correctly know the leg without knowing the elephant.

Changes to Science Change Technology

The metaphysics of reduction, separation, and independence underlying physics is false. It forces us to say that if an airplane flies, its mass is not reduced, but an additional force that counterbalances the force of gravity is created. If we did not have the metaphysics of independence, then we could say that mass is not an objective, independent, and constant property of an object. That it changes with other properties, and it can be changed to make something fly. Which properties should be tweaked to change the weight would now be the primary topic of interest, and it will naturally lead to new science.

In this new science, we would not try to counterbalance the force of gravity but change other things which may be totally counterintuitive to most people, and yet, those changes can drastically reduce the weight. This type of technology is already seen in UFOs. We don’t see any engines in UFOs. We don’t see exhaust fumes coming out of them. They don’t have any wings. But they fly much faster. How? The answer is that they are changing other properties rather than trying to counterbalance gravity. The mass or the speed of a UFO is automatically decreased or increased by changing some other property. There can be millions of kinds of UFOs that change their mass and speed by tweaking other properties.

Once we understand Bhedābheda, then we know that we can make minor changes to one property to create big changes in other properties. This is called the mind controlling the body, but since people think that the mind is a mysterious non-material substance, they don’t get it. The fundamental principle of nature is that reality is structured as an inverted tree, and a minor change in the root can cause drastic changes in the trunks, twigs, and leaves. This is because leaves, twigs, trunks, and roots are distinct but inseparable. All this philosophy and science can be discovered even through the study of aerodynamics. There are profound problems in each subject that can reveal the same principles if we are serious about studying them.

Cite this article as:

Ashish Dalela, "How Airplanes Fly," in Shabda Journal, March 17, 2023,