Is Cosmos Conscious?

Is Cosmos Conscious per Pantheism?

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Carl Sagan begins his bestseller, the Cosmos, with the three assumptions. They are a) humans have evolved to wonder, b) understanding is a joy, and c) knowledge is prerequisite to survival. Wonder, understanding and knowledge – aren’t these qualities of consciousness? Surely, a scientist cannot attribute these directly to atoms, molecules, and cells. Where do these qualities pop up from? Let us understand if the Cosmos is Conscious based on Pantheism.

Scientists say that everything which we see today came from a big bang, thirteen billion years ago. Secondly, the big bang created elementary particles. These first coalesced into subatomic particles. Subatomic particles further coalesced into atoms. We see these atoms spread throughout this massive universe. Did elementary particles carry rudimentary aspects of consciousness at the time of the Big-Bang? Fortunately, the Vedas are more eloquent about the Conscious Cosmos than modern science.

Is Cosmos Conscious
Is Cosmos Conscious?

What rudimentary aspects of consciousness existed at the time of creation? How did Rishis, the authors of the Veda envisage a creation in which a human being alone lands up with self-awareness, and a sense of wonder? Can rudimentary aspects of consciousness survive in pure Vacuum, where matter is missing? What is the place of human consciousness in the realm of cosmic consciousness?

How does Consciousness fit in a materialist model of existence?

Intellectuals in the west try to explain how consciousness can fit into the contemporary model of the Cosmos. These explanations are simple. Besides. they provide only a glimpse into an alternate model of a Conscious Cosmos. Here is one example. Earth itself is an organism. This is a new idea in the west. Secondly, this idea is popular for the last two or three decades among new age spiritualists. Scientists are unable to ignore this idea entirely. However, they are not ready to accept the possibility of an intelligent design in nature, in the evolution of species.

The earliest western philosophers to fully embrace Pantheist ideas from the Vedas were from America. Lately, Hollywood blockbusters such as Star Wars, Avatar, and Lion’s king popularized Pantheist ideas. Therefore, we can conclude that these thoughts have percolated out of the study rooms of scholars. Stanford Encyclopedia of philosophy summarizes Pantheism as follows.

At its most general, pantheism may be understood positively as the view that God is identical with the cosmos, the view that there exists nothing which is outside of God, or else negatively as the rejection of any view that considers God as distinct from the universe.

Epistemic closeness of God

The younger generation today has a keen sense of identity with Earth’s natural resources. In addition, they show a greater reverence towards the Earth than the earlier generations. In the past, such high reverence was commonplace only in agrarian cultures in the East. However, any nature lover can ascribe his spiritual experience to God. Epistemically God is not distant because anyone can encounter God in an experience around them. This is spot on if the experience evokes compassion, gratitude, or a sense of expansion.

Important questions follow an epistemic acknowledgement of the proximity of God. How close is God? Why do we not experience the supernatural powers of God more frequently? Vedic texts answer these questions in the form of stories and parables.

Similarities between Spinoza’s ideas and Vedic texts

Vedic texts are a reliable source from another angle. “Ethics” the 17th century work of Spinoza is the guidebook to modern Pantheists. We find a philosophical question in this book – what exists in an absolute sense? Spinoza raised this question in the context of the cosmos being the body of God. Philosophers are yet to find beautiful answers in the Vedic model of a conscious cosmos.

The Vedas recognize two types of realities. Firstly, there is an absolute reality. Secondly, there is a relative reality. The Vedas further map the idea of two realities onto three kinds of space. We can appreciate Vedic cosmology to its full in the context of three kinds of space.

Three kinds of Space

One of the three kinds of space hosts the supreme divinity. Secondly, the other two spaces overlap this space of Absolute reality. In other words, the space of absolute reality interlaces the other two. This idea is like quantum field being the substratum of the material universe. However, there is no parallel in modern science to the intermediary space in the Vedic model.

Psychologists may recognize intermediary space as a psychic field. Firstly, thoughts, ideas and impressions belong to the intermediary space. Secondly, the level of diversity here surpasses the diversity in the material domain. The Puranas refer to aspects of Individual and Collective consciousness as unseen Beings. These are energy patterns in intermediary space.

The role of unseen Beings in the psychological domain

Unseen Beings direct aspects of human society by influencing individual minds. The Rishis, the wise men of a past era, created stories with keen insight into human psychology. Firstly, these stories do not glorify the supernatural excessively. Secondly, they highlight the equal potential of human consciousness. Unseen beings and human beings are interdependent in the Vedic model of a conscious cosmos. Anyone can cherish the secret messages in the Puranas by understanding these nuances.

Why do the stories in the Puranas seem like a reflection of the philosophy of Spinoza? Spinoza’s ideas reflect stoic ideas from earlier times. Clearly, the Greek scholars thought like the wise men of India. Scholarly articles on Pantheism mention blockbuster movies. Unfortunately, they do not mention the Puranas! Consequently, a spiritual seeker in the west loses a distinct way to understand Pantheism. Besides, stories can bring a thrilling understanding of the Conscious Cosmos.

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