Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Part 5 - Diving into Mithya

We have been looking at this concept called "Mithya" from Vedanta.  Mithya means - that which has no existence of it's own, that which comes and goes - that which is unreal of itself - that which depends on something else for it's existence or reality.

Sat means - IS.  Sat is IS-ness.  Sat is the reality- it is WHAT-IS.  

So right this very second, something IS.  Something exists.  We are quite sure of that, however we are in sort of a jumble about what it is that exists.  Yet something exists, right now.  What IS that something?

We point and say - the tree exists.  The rock exists.  This body exists.  How do you know?  Because I see them.  I hear them.  I feel them.  I might even taste them.  I SAY they exist because I cognize them via one or more of the 5 senses.  So because they are available to me for observation I assert that they exist.  That's what we really mean.

So that thing, that appearance, AS it appears at the moment, AS it appears via the eyes or via the ears - that thing AS it seems to be - that thing exists.  We're making an assumption here - the assumption is that our senses are giving us data on an outside world, exactly as it appears with no modification.  That tree looks exactly as I see it through this mechanism called seeing.  The rock next to the tree is exactly as I see it.  That blue sky is exactly as I see it.

Now the ant comes along - the ant sees the tree and the rock and the sky.  Or a bee comes buzzing along.  The bee sees the tree or the rock or the sky.  Now we might be able to google it and find out that a bee's eye is made up of hundreds of little eyes - this doesn't provide a hundred little pictures of the world but it serves to define the visible world differently - colors appear differently - things aren't quite as sharp.  It's either fact of myth that the cat has night vision - to the cat the world looks a lot different.  Same with the bee - just about any other living creature sees the world differently.  

So who's got it right?  Who sees the world exactly as it really is?  Is the human eyesight right and the rest of the living world sees an incorrect or faulty view?  Or maybe the bee actually sees perfectly and we get the faulty view?   We can't know, because we can't ask the bee, and we can't measure unless we look with our own set of eyes.  We don't have the definitive measurement - we don't have the absolute view to compare our view to, to see how it measures up to seeing what's actually there.  So we believe that OUR view IS the absolute - the definitive measurement of the empirical world.

It's arrogant to believe that your picture of the world is the absolute view of it, the absolutely correct view- that the human view of it is the only one that's correct, when all these others are different.  But it doesn't matter that it's arrogant - it matters that we REALIZE our mistake - realize that our view is not absolute.

So what about the blue sky?  Or the blue water in the ocean?  Can you go out and get a bucketful of blue water?  No.  It's not really blue.  Nor is the sky blue.  Yet if you ask 100 people you'll get 100 confirmations that the sky is blue.  That's because we take what we SEE, what we EXPERIENCE, as ABSOLUTE.  We take that appearance to BE exactly as it APPEARS, yes?  Our way of thinking is that if we are experiencing it - if it's empirical knowledge, it's factual.  It's true.  For that to be true it would require our senses to be perfect holes, perfect receivers of what's really there, with no modifications, no filtering, no skewing, no interpretation.  

There are many books you can read - I'll leave that up to you to google - but it's common knowledge among brain scientists that the brain and nervous system filters out 99% of all data received by the senses.  That means what you're actually seeing or hearing or feeling or tasting or smelling represents 1% of the available data.  1%...  Let that sink in.

1%.  You're getting only 1% of what's really there.  The brain is automatically filtering out 99% of sensory data.  So what does the world really look like?  Can you ever know?  Can you turn off that filtering function and get all 100% of it? 

So what we know empirically is absolutely flawed.  It is in no way accurate of what's really there.  We don't know what the Hell a tree really is.  We don't have any idea what BLUE is - not to mention a blue sky.  We have a very customized picture, just like the bee does, just like the cat does, which allows the human body to function as it needs to function, however the absolute-ness of what we know has now come under doubt.  We are no longer certain of what we see.  We can no longer trust what we know to be 100% accurate in representation of WHAT-IS.  All we can say is that we know what APPEARS to us.  

That appearance is a modified appearance, by the nature of the way the brain and nervous system filter out unnecessary data.  We can drive a car and be pretty certain that we're staying in our lane, however if we're engaged in a spiritual or ontological path, we must consider that what we know via the senses is not absolute.  

That doesn't mean that it's an illusion, in the way we think of illusion.  It doesn't mean that nothing is there.  Something is there.  We just cannot say any longer that what we know empirically is the absolute truth.

Look around.  Is the world actually defined exactly as you are seeing it?  Is it possible that your picture of this room, this computer screen, these hands on the keyboard - is it possible that what's really there looks different from your view?

Ponder and we'll chat again soon.