The scope of this topic may be too much for me to handle. I won’t be quoting the scriptures. I may not use a lot of technical Sanskrit terms. Nevertheless:
Having encountered misunderstandings about Hinduism from others, I mentioned several posts ago that I would be writing something relating to our Dharma that I myself do not understand. It has to do with Sound. I have many times fluxuated between the belief that this material world is literally an illusion, and the belief that the only thing that is illusory is the importance we place upon it. In the post about others’ misunderstandings I said that some things are just a matter of definition and there are other more important things we could worry about defining. Even this may be one of those lesser important things. But it is of interest to me.
I debated a friend of a friend on Facebook recently but the debate does not go far when one party is approaching the matter purely scientifically and observationally, while the other is approaching it from more of a metaphysical angle. I guess the latter was me. Believe me that this was not a matter of one party talking science and the other closed-mindedly quoting scripture. It was not a religion vs. science debate. No, its just that I came to a conclusion not too long ago that the answer to “If a tree falls in the woods and nobody is there to hear it, does it make a sound?” is No. And I came to that conclusion because it is my understanding that sound is a phenomenon which only exists because it is heard. Because there is an ear to receive the vibration. Vibration being only one half of the equation which equals sound.
That vibration is the eternal Aum, infinitely subtle but also the ground of the gross, manifested and transitory — SOUND.
But that sound only manifests as the Maya that we experience as embodied vehicles.
The whole debate began over the question of whether there is sound in space. Particularly whether the Big Bang would have made an actual BANG! Not only was it my understanding that since it would not have occurred in an atmosphere where sound could carry, there would be no sound, but also, again there was nobody there to hear it to begin with. No ear to receive the vibration. The other party insisted that I was not using science. In part he was correct but I was in fact using my understanding of science for the assumption I made.
So I asked another party, this time a trusted confidant, about the matter. He asked me if I really believed that reality was contingent on perception. I said “not entirely” and that with sound, I wondered.
First of all, I would say that no, “Reality” is not contingent on the gross, for obviously the gross springs forth from the “Reality.” Then the questions arises, IS that which springs forth still the Reality itself or merely a reflection? Hindu dharma, many versions of it anyroad, teach that the reflection is divine, the light bouncing off the mirror is divine. But at the same time they are all Maya, we must remember. In short, the phenomenal world is but a cosmic light show. So that is how I distinguish it from true “Reality”, the Infinite from whence it sprung.
So that is the “not entirely” part.
But then I said that with sound, I wondered. Almost as soon as I sent that message I realized that if sound was suspect then so was light/sight, and well, touch and smell too. Not in the same way though. I mean as I write this I am the only one in my apartment and the shades are closed. I don’t have any domestic animals staring at me. not any bugs either as far as I know. But I am here. These words will prove that, I think. But why sight is just as suspect as sound is this: Every time we see something, the light touches our eyes enabling sight to begin with, and that transmits a message to the brain. The eyes are not what actually sees. They are but a messenger. The brain takes the message and puts it together into a coherent image. But surely my brain and your brain are wired at least slightly differently if not greatly. Is it possible that somewhere along those neurological pathways, my brain might reconstruct an image in a different way than yours would? Is it possible that an iconic image looks very different to me than it does to you? And I am not talking about what we think of the image. I am talking about what it actually looks like to you or me.
Anyway, I don’t plan on writing a book on the subject.
Jai Hari Aum.