History, Evolution, and The Darwin Debate

Darwiniana header image 2

Chopra should be abducted into Samkhya yoga

April 8th, 2015 · No Comments

Chopra is smart and puts things together in a somewhat engaging if facile way. He reminds me of J.G.Bennett in this. But the example of Bennett, i.e. new age thinking trying for science, shows the need for an organized model from axioms to conclusions. In fact Bennett’s relative rigor here exposed at once the limits of his model and his resemblance to Chopra. But he did try to touch on general relativity, expand dimensionality beyond four dimensions, redefine the categories of Kant, and much else in a comprehensive model (which, come to think of it, failed at once having bit off more than it could chew). In any case the issue of synchronicity is one of the most tricky and I am not sure it can be resolved in speculative musings.

Chopra tries to draw these conclusions:

Collectively, the world’s sages, seers and mystic repeat the same conclusions, which can be stated in modern secular terms as three principles:

The universe is conscious; therefore, human intelligence is a single outcropping in an infinite field of intelligence.
Reality functions as a unified whole. Everything from subatomic particles to galaxies operates as one.
Because it is sentient, the universe is constructed as layers of consciousness that parallel different levels of reality. “Consciousness stuff” transforms into waves, particles, planets, living creatures, the human brain, and beyond. Our senses are attuned to the appearance of physical things, but if we have sufficient self-awareness, the mask of materialism drops away, and we see the invisible nature of reality as it truly is, not as it appears.

Seeing the universe as mind first and matter second is the position of every spiritual tradition; introducing God is actually secondary, in that some traditions accept the three principles without needing a personal God to personify them.

That’s a whopper of a set of ‘conclusions’. To say the universe is conscious is something I have repeated in the instance from Bennett: but its meaning there (still not satisfactory) was part of a tetrad of properties in a dodecad. Conscious is beyond the level of life and is not the same as ‘alive’. The model made that clear. Consciousness is the lowest state of ‘cosmic energy’, not the highest, and functions crudely by the standards of cosmic reality. That’s merely a property of the system model Bennett creates and its clarifies things (even as it enters a larger muddle). The point is that ‘conscious’ and ‘sentient’ aren’t the same and we can’t ascribe sentience to the universe because we have called it ‘conscious’. So it goes with a lot of what Chopra says. It is clear that Bennett is almost as confusing, but he does clarify a whole series of points. For example: consciousness in man (and here we really mean self-consciousness) is a cosmic energy manifestable in the human brain and mixed with vital energies (like ‘sentience’) which are purely biological. This kind of careful delimitation of the usage of dangerous terms like consciousness might be screwball themselves, but they give us a glimpse of how we can generalize to a cosmic dimension.
There is no doubt that physics can’t make use of its most exotic discoveries, like non-locality, but they were discovered with careful experiment, and await more of the same.
Chopra is jumping between scientific and mystic modes without any concern for the differences of scale and the comparative rigor.
The work of Bennett in any case made a significant innovation in its distinctions of ‘being, function, and will’, rather than material, spiritual, alive and consciousness. In great confusion this was a useful experiment: it freed cosmological mysticism from applying wrong usages of the terms ‘conscious’, ‘alive’ to cosmic bodies or complexes. We can, however, and this could make the confusion even worse, apply the label ‘will’ to cosmic formations in the sense that they represent ‘cosmological laws’ on a scale upward from physical laws. The point here is that there is a better way to consider the mysticism of cosmology (to the shudders of physicists) in the context of will.
I fear, reading Chopra, that Bennett has fallen into a similar set of confusions, but I think that we do have a path to a new form of cosmology and perhaps Bennett glimpses a way to that. In any case the ‘laws of nature’ in some sense blend into the higher laws of nature which have an aspect of Will in the sense of Schopenhauer, perhaps.

It might be of interest to Chopra to consider the resemblance of Bennett’s thinking to Samkhya, very in Chopra’s indic backyard, and consider the meaning of the latter, if anything remains in the confusions in its legacy…
He will see that much of what he is trying to state is stated better in Samkhya if we can find the key. The idea that the ‘gunas’ of Samkhya are ‘triads’ and that such triads are manifestations of ‘will’ in the sense of Schopenhauer (and Bennett, who, unfortunately shears off the Kantian noumenal distinction) puts Bennett in the rocket sear momentarily as all the terms beffuddled by new agers enter briefly into a coherent unity. There matter and consciousness are complementary aspects of being (and one set of demented debates over their duality disappear) and are distinct from the will. This trick relieve the subject of much new age down the drain speculation about a conscious universe. The cosmic bodies are material constructs in the cascade of the will and there is a hierarchy of laws, 3, 6, 12, 24, 48, 96 in a relationship of gunas as cosmic laws. This scheme is highly speculative but it has produced a way for mystics to at least produce a coherent set of statements, nonsense or not. The failure of Bennett to honor Schopenhauer’s transcendental idealism with its distinction of noumenal and phenomenal complicates the discussion which may collapse once again just near the narrow gate to sanity. But in any case the relationship of the gunas to the ‘Will’ in nature a la Schopenhauer is the royal road back to a real Indian tradition, one whose absence in Chopra’s thinking leaves him trying to apply monotheistic mysticism with a twist of buddhism to the complexities of modern physics.
There was a better way, Samkhya, and this, lo and behold, is seen to clarify around Schopenhauer’s idea of the ‘will’ in nature (and this is not our ‘willpower’) and this in turn can conceivably find a match in the concpets of modern quantum mechanics.

Tags: General

0 responses so far ↓

  • There are no comments yet...Kick things off by filling out the form below.

Leave a Comment