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Sadananda

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: Does the world exist independent of an observer?  ( 4761 )
Dr. Sadananda
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« : February 17, 2010, 11:52:27 PM »

Does the world exist independent of an observer?

First, let us ask some basic questions which might have escaped the attention of many. How do we know that there is a world out there?

What kind of question is that? I know the world because I experience the world every day, in fact every minute. I am in the world; everything reminds me of that fact including your question.

Good. Let us pose the next question, does the world exists if we do not experience it?

Of course it does, whether we experience it or not. We come into this world and we exit from the world; the world has always been there from our forefathers’ time and it will be there even after we leave. We exit from this world, but the world will always exist.

Is that so? But, how do you know that? Does the world tell you that it exists? Or do you infer that the world exists based on the information you have gathered from books or listening to others?

If there is no conscious entity to report the fact, can one prove that the world exists? The world cannot declare that it exists, since it is inert. Others, including historians, report that the universe has existed from the time of the big bang and there is no reason why it should disappear. In fact, matter can never be destroyed – that is the law.

But we are not discussing here the destruction of matter; we are questioning the very existence of matter, before we talk about its destruction. Can one prove the existence of matter or any inert entity without a conscious entity to establish its existence? Essentially, can one establish the existence of the universe independent of a conscious entity?

Histories and theories etc. are all products of the conscious entity based on observations and deductions. The fact of the matter is that the existence of the world can never be proved without a conscious entity being present. Let us pose the question in a different way. Does the world exist when you go into the deep sleep state?

Of course it exists - when I get up in the morning, everything is in the same place that I left it in the night, including all the problems that I had. The world was there before you went to sleep, since you were there to experience it. The world is there in the morning, since you are there to experience it. The question is: without the presence of an experiencer, a conscious entity, can one prove the existence of the inert world on its own?

Remember we posed a similar question when you are in a pitch dark room. You are there independent of any means of knowledge or pramANa since you are a self-conscious entity and therefore a self-existent entity. But you were not sure about the presence of any objects in the dark room since you could not see them or experience them. The question is the same, but is now being asked in terms of the world of objects, in fact the whole universe that includes not only objects but other beings as well. (From my reference point, all other beings are only objects, since I can only perceive their body and at best make inferences about their minds or the manifested aspects of their consciousness).

The existence of the world independent of a conscious entity is not possible since the world is not self-conscious and therefore not a self-existent entity. One can infer its existence based on the continuity principle but even to infer that, I have to be there. Whether the world can exist independent of me becomes a moot question since there is no way to prove that existence. Hence Shankara calls it ‘anirvachanIya’ – inexplicable. In the world of math it is called an indeterminate problem. That is, one cannot say the world is nor can one say the world is not; and to say ‘is’ or ‘is not’, I the conscious entity have to exist first.

Furthermore, I should also illumine the world for me to be conscious of the world. This is in addition to any other illuminating factors needed to illumine the objects for me to be conscious of them. Recall the example of the pitch dark room. I am there alright, but I also need another light to see the existence or non-existence of the objects in that room. Otherwise I can only illumine the darkness that envelopes all the objects. Until I illumine the objects too, in the presence of a light, I cannot say whether the objects in the room exist or not - their existence is indeterminate. Suppose I am not there, but there is a bright light burning in that room. I still would not know if there are any objects in that room or not. This means that two factors are needed to establish the existence of the universe. One is a conscious entity that I am, and the other factor is presence of all the factors needed for complete operation of the means of knowledge or pramANa. If I am there but the light is too dim for me to see clearly, I may see snakes instead of ropes. The bottom line is that, without the presence of ‘I am’, the existence of the world cannot be established.

You can postulate that the world is real and is always present, as some philosophers propose. But even to postulate that, I have to be there. No, No, Vedas say so! – Sir, that is your interpretation. Vedanta says in fact the opposite, in tune with the above analysis. But the fact of the matter is that, even to validate what Vedanta says, I have to be there. The Vedas are also part of this world, not out of this world. No – they are apauruSheya, not written by a human being and they eternally exist. Yes, even to believe that I have to be there first. This is blasphemy. No. Vedas are scientific truths and they themselves declare that they come under apara vidyA [superior knowledge], like any other scientific truths, which are eternal. However, I have to be there even to validate the existence of the Vedas too. In short, ‘I am’ comes before the world comes into existence.

This is really weird. You have mentioned before that the Vedas are only pramANa or a means of knowledge to know the absolute. And now, you are dismissing the Vedas too, along with the world. You are contradicting yourself. How can the Vedas which are part of the world be a means of knowledge for that which is beyond the world of plurality? This is not Vedanta.

Sir, contradictions are only at the level of the mind. Vedas are pramANa for POINTING in the direction of the truth that is beyond any means of knowledge. The truth as we said before is ‘aprameyam’, beyond any means of knowledge. What we said is that Vedanta, in the hands of a teacher, becomes the means for a well-prepared mind to take off to a ‘state’ beyond any description and beyond that even Vedas describe as indescribable – ‘adRRiShTam, avyapadeshyam, agrAhyam, achintyam, - imperceptible, indescribable, unattainable, unthinkable etc.
« : April 18, 2014, 03:47:09 PM Sunil »
Vivek
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« #1 : September 28, 2011, 11:57:26 PM »

"The existence of the world independent of a conscious entity is not possible since the world is not self-conscious and therefore not a self-existent entity."

Is the existence not possible or is the proof of its existence not possible? A person in a dark room, tied at a corner, may never be able to prove that say a chair or table exists in the room. Would it be right for him to say it doesn't exist or that he can't proof if it exists or not?

Isn't there a difference between merely proving that something exists, and it existing?

Just as a person in a dark room says "A chair MAY be in this room". To me, this doesn't conflict with a chair actually being there or not. Because, everything is connected to everything and the chair affects the remaining of the universe. Whether we infer the chair as existing or not, is irrelevant to the chair's actual existence. I.e. subjective perception is one thing and is merely a reflection of objective existence. The chair may not be a chair to someone of different perception, it may be something else, it may not be inferred by any of the senses at all. To say "it" (absolutely) doesn't exist though is wrong. To say it objectively exists "as a chair" is wrong. To say 'something' exists to our subjective perception as a chair is right.
« : September 29, 2011, 12:02:38 AM Vivek »
Dr. Sadananda
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« #2 : October 24, 2011, 06:21:07 AM »

Vivek:
"The existence of the world independent of a conscious entity is not possible since the world is not self-conscious and therefore not a self-existent entity."

Is the existence not possible or is the proof of its existence not possible? A person in a dark room, tied at a corner, may never be able to prove that say a chair or table exists in the room. Would it be right for him to say it doesn't exist or that he can't proof if it exists or not?
 
Sada: Vivekji – PraNAms – good question.
Yes at the subject level it is the recognition of the existence is not possible without a conscious entity that has a mind as instrument and senses that function. Without the five senses functioning I cannot recognize the world and even if the senses are functioning if the mind is not available as in deep sleep state, the presence of the world is not recognized. Hence the existence of the world becomes indeterminate or anirvachaniiyam.

Now let us go one step above. Consciousness is all-pervading and infinite hence it is called Brahman. If the world exists independent of Brahman the Brahma ceases to be Brahman (infiniteness). If the world depends on Brahman then we have inert world existing in the conscious Brahman – we end up with conscious and unconscious entities co-existing as one (which VishiShTaadvaita subscribes – as Brahman has internal differences). But this violates as Brahman as infinite is part-less. Hence the truth is consciousness appears as the subject – I and object, the world. For this dream analogy is used as illustration. Hence the scriptures say – Iswara (consciousness identified with the total maayaa) decided to become many and became many – bahusyaam – prajaayeyeti  - let me become many and He became many. Becoming involves a material cause – gold becomes ornaments whereas gold-smith does not become ornaments – in the later case gold-smith is only intelligent cause and not material cause. Where as for the world – scripture says He himself became many. Inert material cannot exist independent of consciousness since Brahman, the consciousness is infinite. Hence as per our scripture inert world is nothing but Brahman but appearing as verities of names and forms. Hence we say He is omnipresent.
To understand this only we need Scripture as pramANa – and that is the essence of tat tvam asi – statement where tat – that – which appears to be inert is myself only. Now you can see the validity of the statement only a self-conscious entity alone is self-existing entity.
-------------
Vivek:
Isn't there a difference between merely proving that something exists, and it existing?

Just as a person in a dark room says "A chair MAY be in this room". To me, this doesn't conflict with a chair actually being there or not. Because, everything is connected to everything and the chair affects the remaining of the universe. Whether we infer the chair as existing or not, is irrelevant to the chair's actual existence. I.e. subjective perception is one thing and is merely a reflection of objective existence. The chair may not be a chair to someone of different perception, it may be something else, and it may not be inferred by any of the senses at all. To say "it" (absolutely) doesn't exist though is wrong. To say it objectively exists "as a chair" is wrong. To say 'something' exists to our subjective perception as a chair is right.

Vivekji- Now can you say gaagaabuubu may be existing in the dark room? It may be there and it may not be there. Is this irreverent to actual existence of non-existence of gaagaabuubu. Suppose when you turn the light on you recognize all the objects in the room that are existing – but how about gaagaabuubu? Can you say it is existing or non-existing?
Chair existence or its non-existence is established by perceptual process only. Recognition that it is a chair that is existing and not a table comes from prior knowledge of what chair is and how it differs from the table, it is not? We have to separate cognition and recognition.  If suppose there is an object in the lighted room that I am able to cognize and am seeing for the first time in my life. Then someone comes to the room as says that object is called gaagaabuubu. Now I know that gaagaabuubu exists and is existing. In essence the existence of an object is only established through pramANa; in this case perception. In the case of gravitational force it is by anumaana pramANa since apples are falling down.  An object has to exist for one to recognize that it is currently existing here and now. I can also say – I do not see a pot here – That is because I know what is a pot from my previous perception and now I cannot find that object here and not in that room. The non-existing object pot in the room is recognized since it was existing at sometime or someplace and I have knowledge of that existence. This is all simple but familiar logic, right?

Hari Om!
Sadananda
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« #3 : March 12, 2014, 05:31:20 AM »

Perhaps "Existence" is undefined if there is no "Conscious Entity" !

Vivek
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« #4 : June 11, 2015, 09:13:14 PM »

Hello,

I am visiting the forum after a long time. So, in this discussion do we all agree that perception and reality in itself are two different things? 

That is, all these are true :

1. Something exist, but we perceive it doesn't or can't be certain that it does.  (eg. ghosts if they don't come to attention to our perception, chair in a dark room)
2. Something exists, and we perceive it exists. (this computer, food etc)
3. Something doesn't exist, and we perceive it doesn't exist or can't be certain it does (eg. triangle with four sides, circle with edges)
4. Something doesn't exist, and we perceive it exists. (mirage as a lake)

Would this be accurate or incorrect?
Dr. Sadananda
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« #5 : July 03, 2015, 04:25:52 AM »


I am visiting the forum after a long time. So, in this discussion do we all agree that perception and reality in itself are two different things? 

That is, all these are true :

1. Something exist, but we perceive it doesn't or can't be certain that it does.  (eg. ghosts if they don't come to attention to our perception, chair in a dark room)
Sada:
Vivek –welcome back.  That something exists is not ascertained until either we see it, or infer it or assume it exists based on hear-say – pratyaksha, anumaana and shabda pramaanas. If none of the pramanas establishes to our mind that it exists then its existence is like gaagaabuubu – it may or may not exist.
Fact remains – EXISTENCE OF AN OBJECT IS ESTABLISHED BY THE KNOWLEDGE OF ITS EXISTENCE.
Otherwise its existence remain as indeterminate – unless we are referring to logically contradictories like vandhyaa putraH – son of a barren woman. There is a logical  contradiction in that statement. Hence it does not exist.
---------------------------------------
2. Something exists, and we perceive it exists. (this computer, food etc)
Sada:
Something exists and we have knowledge of its existence and not just hear-say.
------------------------------------------------------------
3. Something doesn't exist, and we perceive it doesn't exist or can't be certain it does (eg. triangle with four sides, circle with edges)
These are logical contradictions therefore they do not exists – period. They are truly called asat as in vandhyaaputraH.
--------------------------

4. Something doesn't exist, and we perceive it exists. (mirage as a lake)
Sada:  These come under errors in perception – snake on the rope or mirage waters. The first one is subjective objectification and the second is objective-objectification. In Vedanta they are called nirupaadika adhyaasa and sopadika adhyaasa. Dream world is does not exist but appear to exist for a dreamer – they are also called praatibhaasika error. The sun-rise and sun-set etc are vyaavahaarika adhyaasa.
Hari Om!
Sada
Vivek
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« #6 : July 17, 2015, 09:35:14 PM »

EXISTENCE OF AN OBJECT IS ESTABLISHED BY THE KNOWLEDGE OF ITS EXISTENCE

How I can understand it sir:

The existence of an object is ascertained by the knowledge of its existence.

Our knowledge of it establishes merely the fact that it exists, but it doesn't establish it's existence itself.

If we consider this case: A boy lives in a jungle, nobody has seen him. 60 years in the future adventurers see him.

Is his existence established by the adventurers? No. But the knowledge of his existence (fact that he exists) is ascertained by them. But his existence per se was established when he was born. Similarly a prehistoric painting in a deep earlier, cave that has not been accessed.
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