What is Real? Discussions with Ranga.

Mon, May 21, 2007 at 9:15 PM

I recognized that the notion of an absolute reality needed more rigor in its argument. I modified one of my articles (http://theunrealuniverse.com/unreal-advaita.pdf) to address (or at least side-step) the problem. Here is how I see it (This is written in the Brahman-Maya context, but it is essentially the same in noumenal-phenomenal context as well):

“From a scientific perspective, we may study the workings of our senses in an attempt to understand the process creating Maya and see the reason why light is so special in our phenomenal notions of space and time.

For this purpose, we describe our sensory and cognitive process or the creation of Maya as follows. It starts with our senses. The sensory signals that our senses collect are presumably caused by Brahman, but they represent only an incomplete aspect of it. They are then relayed to our brains. The brain creates a cognitive model, a representation of the sensory inputs, and presents it to our conscious awareness as reality. Our visual reality consists of space precisely as our auditory world is made up of sounds. Just as sounds are a perceptual experience rather than a fundamental property of physical reality, space also is an experience, or a cognitive representation of the visual inputs, not a fundamental aspect of Brahman that our senses are vying to sense. The phenomenal reality thus created is Maya.

This description of how Maya is created is not perfectly in line with Advaita Vedanta, which emphasizes the unity and indivisibility of Brahman and does not accept any duality between our senses and what is sensed. Our dualistic description ushers in a tricky philosophical question. Who or what creates Maya and where? It is not created by our senses, brain and mind because these are all objects in Maya. Maya cannot create itself. It cannot be that Brahman itself creates a Maya because, in that case, Maya would be as real as Brahman. This philosophical quandary can be addressed in the following way. We assume that all events and objects in Maya have a cause or form in Brahman. Thus, we postulate that our senses, mind and body all have some (unknown) forms in Brahman, and these forms create Maya in our conscious awareness.”

This may not be tight enough as arguments go, but this is the best I could come up with.

Do let me know your thoughts.

– cheers,
– Manoj


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