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An irreversible Physiological Transformation?
|by Dr. Varanasi Ramabrahmam|
The concept of evolution as envisaged and developed by modern scientists will be reviewed. The concept of consciousness and its evolution in humans as enlightenment and self-realization as experienced and expressed in the Upanishads, Vedanta, Yoga Sutras, Bhakti Sutras and in the experiences and expressions of modern spiritual preceptors Sri Ramana Maharshi, Sri Aurobindo, Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and Sri Jiddu Krishnamurthy will be critically analyzed. And self-realization in individual leading one to and establishing in jeevanmukta state will be discussed. The possible physiological, physicochemical and psychological nature and implications of such consciousness evolution in humans will be discussed.
Evolution is a modern scientific proposition for the explanation of emergence of life from matter and consequent life-systems. The emergence of plants, animals and humans as superior life-systems is explained by Darwin in the 19th century. That theory has been dominating scientific community since then and is a healthy rival to the theory of creation. Evolution is a process during which some things are dropped or deleted and some things are added and a synthesis of things takes place which is either final are still amicable and amenable for further evolution. Evolution though is both progress and regress depending on the changes and view taken by the observer most of the times evolution is equated with improvement and progress. Also evolution is mostly considered unidirectional, not reversible or retraceable.
Modern scientific insight of evolution:
It has been proposed by modern physicists that big bang has taken place trillion of years back and matter slowly started evolving. The order of that and later evolution of species is given as:
Evolution of universe;
Evolution of universe; chemical evolution; molecular and macromolecular evolution, evolution of proto-cells, cells, tissues, organs and organisms, evolution of consciousness
Infrasonic form of mind - conscious states or phases of mind:
Jagrat Sushupti Wakeful Sleep Advaita Bhakti Para
A series of ‘I -I’ pulses’ issue and virtual energy transformation takes place Mind is active if willed. Sense and action organs are alert and ready to function. Through meditation one reaches this state. State of Visranta Drishti, Bhakti Silence, Bliss, Peace, Unoccupied awareness, Pure Consciousness Divine consciousness, Real ‘I’ state etc. Normal or ground or original or natural state of mind; Being.
Jagrat Wakeful Dvaita
Mind is active. Sense and Action organs are active are in working state. All knowing/expressions take place in this state. Vaikhari Bahirmukha Dristi (awareness of without) Becoming Excited state of mind.
Swapna Dream Dvaita Pasyanti
Mind is active. Sense organs are in dormant state. Actions organs will be functioning if necessary. Vibhakti / Madhyama Anthramukha Dristi (awareness of within). Becoming Excited state; Excited state of mind.
Sushupti Deep Sleep Advaita
A series of ‘I-I’ pulses’ issue and Mind is in absorbed state. No transformation of virtual metal energy. Sense and action organs are not in functional state. No awareness of within or without of body prapancham-cognitions) or vasanas-cognition related or created remembrances. State of cessation of mental activities.
Electro-chemical form of mind-cognitive and functional states of mind- as Sapta lokas - A Gayatri Mantra Perspective:
Seven states of cognition (sapta lokas) are identified in relation to ego-transcending or egoistic or self-conscious state of mind. These cognition states function around the, ‘I’-consciousness, ‘I-sense, the I-thought or feeling and I-expression or utterance or in the absence of such identification. Then no individual- specific information will be in the mental awareness and the mind transcends to a state or phase when the mental awareness becomes one with the consciousness and non-duality in the form of peace, bliss, or silence is experienced. Cognitions cease to take place but will take place if willed or necessary. The seven cognitive states of mind are:
Pure consciousness: Normal or original state of mind (infrasonic form):
I. “I” Consciousness – No “I” Awareness of and about individual (satya loka). State of self-realization.
II. Meditative state of mind. One pointed awareness. (biochemical/biophysical form) (tapo loka)
Egoistic and Functional States of mind:
III. “I” Awareness/Sense/mood- Ego Sense - State of verb/meaning/understanding/experience/intuition/urge- Infinite form or present continuous form of verb without subject or object attached. (biochemical form of energy as potential energies) (jano loka)
IV. Logic, reasoning, intellectual operations (awareness of within of the body)- State of sentence with subject-verb-object-perception (electrochemical form of energy infrasonic form being the carrier energy) (mahar loka)
V. ‘I” Thought/Feeling (awareness of within of the body)- State of sentence with subject-verb-object-perception (electrochemical form of energy infrasonic form being the carrier energy) (bhuvaha loka)
VI. ‘I” Thought/Feeling (awareness of without of the body through sense organs- reception of stimuli through eyes, ears, nose, tongue, skin in light, sound, chemical and mechanical and heat forms respectively) in relation to outside physical world. Mind tuned to outside world through sense organs. “I” Utterance/Expression/also reception of stimuli from outside world and expression through action organs. (utterance - sound form, and facial expressions-mechanical form of energy)
VII. No “I” Awareness of or about individual- No Self- consciousness or ongoing of mental functions. State of cessation of all types of mental functions. (suvaha loka)
Kinds of functional states of mind - A Vedanta Panchadasi Perspective:
(a). Getting tuned to and sensing stimuli from external physical world through sense organs and reception (biophysical- annamaya kosa-tanmaatras- activitation of sense organs - jnaanendriyas).
Human consciousness based on this proposition can be viewed as comprising of Pure Consciousness (Being of Mind) and Awareness (becoming of mind). Atman (mental or psychic energy source) takes care of the consciousness part and maya (reflected mental energy virtual form) and its forward and revere-transformations take care of the awareness part in respective conscious states Thus Atman is proposed to be an infrasonic mechanical oscillator giving out mental energy pulses of frequency 10 Hz (time-period of 10-1 sec.) 10 Hz is the frequency of this mechanical oscillator according to both western science and eastern philosophy and theory of language acquisition and communication. The enormous number (300 million) and surface area (70 square meters) associated with alveoli constituting this bio-oscillator/.bio-maser produces enormous amount of mental energy though the frequency is in the infrasonic range. [It is interesting here to mention that the mental rhythms detected by the experiment by German scientist Hans Berger using EEG (electro-encephalogram) also have the same time- period of 10-1 sec].
Simply put, according to Upanishads, human mental functions are the forward and backward transformations of chidabhasa or maya - the carrier (in the sense of carrier radio wave in broadcasting and reception process) cognitive-energy pulse series, modulated by energies sensed through sense organs or the stored information as potential energies retrieved (as vasanas - object-experiences first and then jagat [inner world] as feelings/thoughts/perceptions) and demodulated to give humans knowledge, experiences etc., in the respective conscious states. The transformation of maya, reverse transformation of maya and cessation of transformation of maya - the dvaita and advaita conscious states respectively- taking place simultaneously, consecutively and alternately is the structure, form, function, state and essence of human consciousness, mental functions and cognitive processes.
Self-realization consists in understanding the natures of aham and idam and changing either of them during the process of evolution of consciousness. Various ways of doing so are available in the Upanishads. Self-realization is also a process of transforming dristi about sristi, srasta and srujuna. Self-realization is a process reverse to generation of thoughts. Self-realization is achieved by using ideas, moods, urges, emotions, feelings, thoughts (saguna bhakti) and also transcending them (nirguna bhakti). Self-realization can also be achieved by stalling cognitive process as is done in Yoga method. The methods of Bhakti and Yoga are discussed below.
Jeevanmukta is one who is liberated mentally while alive. Jeevan (while alive) Mukta (liberated mentally) state is culmination of an evolutionary process in the individual. It is a distinct physiological process and change within the body of the individual. It is a distinct physicochemical state of mind functioning differently to stimuli from within and without of the body. The jeevanmukta continues to live in and as the state of liberation free from usual worldly entanglements.
The names suddhaaham, nirguna, jnaana, prajnaana, santa, mauna, aananda, bakti, para, nirvana, jeevanmukta are synonymous with self-realized state. It is a state of pure consciousness, unoccupied awareness and content-free contented state of mind. Being in that state is not removal of oneself and one’s self from worldly affairs. But transcending worldly entanglements and being engaged in worldly affairs and normal duties in an efficient way with equanimity of mind.
Self-Realization through Bhakti:
Bhakti (Devotion) is the most profound human emotion that merges the individual’s identity with the Divinity. Bhakti has many definitions. We need to submit ourselves before Divinity by thought, word and deed. We then offer our self-consciousness and ego to the Lord and submerge our in Him. When we do like this, we will avoid the thoughts relating to I, me and mine. These thoughts not only stop but will permanently cease to arise in us. This cessation of thoughts forms is time-or mind-transcendence.
Two definitions are discussed here:
“Sa (bhakti) tu asmin paramaprema roopa” –is the most famous and popular definition of Bhakti from the Narada Bhakti Sutras. This means that Bhakti is the unalloyed love for God. This love is paramam (ultimate). Paramam also means that this love happens and exists without expecting anything in return. It is loving for the sake of loving. In this process we employ our sense organs (eyes, ears, nose, tongue and skin) to know about God and Divinity. Our eyes see his Divine Form. Our ears listen to his Divine Name and deeds etc. We also employ our action organs (movements of hands, movements of legs, movement of vocal chords (speech) etc., to reach God through daily worship and chanting His Name and other prayers.
It must be known to us that we know through sense organs and all this information is stored as inner mental world in us. We get our thoughts and feelings based on this accumulated information. If we accumulate mundane information we get thoughts about mundane matters. If we accumulate sensual information we get sensual thoughts. If we accumulate information about God and Divinity we get thoughts about God and Divinity. We also act and react through action organs (hands, legs, speech etc.,) depending on the information known through sense organs and accumulated within us. This inner mental world with information about outside world has already been formed in us since our infancy. We can consciously change this inner mental world by rewriting on available information the information about God and Divinity. This, we can do by employing our sense organs as described and accumulate Divine Information. Then we automatically get pleasant and blissful thoughts and feelings. That is how our Elders have started the tradition of Bhakti in which all our faculties and organs are involved with Divinity.
In Sivananda Lahari Sri Sankraacharya says:
Meaning: Just as the seeds of Amkola tree stuck to it again, iron needle is attracted to magnet, youthful woman reaches her husband, creeper entwines the tree, and the river flows into the sea, so an individual is attracted to and reaches Pasupati’s (Siva’s) feet. Bhakti is state of cessation of working or/and absorption in the Self of antahkarnas (inner mental tools- manas, buddhi, chittam and ahamkaram) and resting thus always.
Let us see nirguna bhakti.
Swaswaroopa anusandhanaam bhakti iti abhidheeyate – is a famous nirguna definition of bhakti. This has interesting implications. Bhakti is tuning ourselves to our original state and form the state of Saanta Rasa. This original state (rasa sthiti) is the state of bliss, peace and silence. In these experience states, our identity as the individual is merged in the Real Identity that is- ego, time and thought transcending state of mind. This happens when we contemplate about spiritual expressions and arrive at the destination i.e., rasa sthiti. This approach is the path of artha bhaavanam (contemplation on the meaning). When we understand we experience. When we experience we understand. Experience and understanding are simultaneous. The experience of meanings and senses of uttered (heard) sounds and sentences or comprehension of Divine Utterances and their implications makes us reach the tatpara (absorbed and being one with tat (Divinity) or taatparya (purport or import or rasa) state of language. We must be aware that we use the same mind to learn and master the languages and rest of the disciplines as we use for doing our tasks in daily life. The state of thoughts or feelings is known as vibhakti state of mind. We all know that vibhakti is case forms, endings and terminations in the theory of language. Patanjali and Bhartruhari have initiated, nurtured and developed a theory of language acquisition and communication making use of the same Advaita concept of Vedantins. In this process aham - self-consciousness is changed completely to Pure Consciousness.
Bhakti thus is description of devotion to favourite Deity and also the essential part and essence Vedanta. Thus by God’s Grace we can transcend the psychological time-flow which exists in us in the form of thought-flow. Mind becomes calm and peaceful when we shed our ego and fill it with the insight about Divinity. Then we can live attributing everything and happening to God’s will and take everything with equanimity in our stride. Then we have more pleasantness and mind acquires strength to face life. We will tackle all problems with courage and calmness. We will be rid of thoughts about past or future. We live peacefully and blissfully not getting reminded of ego transcending time. We live in the present. We live in tranquility.
Yoga – a conscious process of evolution of individual consciousness- the stalling and controlling of cognition process:
Yoga Sutras compiled by Patanjali are store-houses of yogic method of enquiry. “Yogaha c hitta vritti nirodhaha” is the most famous yoga sutra of Patanjali. The famous Brahma Sutra – “saastra yonitvaat” states that all disciplines of knowledge have originated in the Atman or Brahman. Yoga Sutras use the word Purusha to signify the same. The word maya of the Vedantains corresponds to prakruti of yoga sutras. Thus maya and prakruti are one and the same and can be considered as chit or mental or psychic energy carriers. As mentioned earlier above Atman and maya and its transformations together constitute human consciousness. Maya undergoes vivartanam [forward (modulation) and reverse (demodulation) transformation or becoming of maya or pravanam or prakruti] and constitutes mental functions and cessation of such a vivartanam gives nirvishayavasuddhaasanaapravaaham.
Vritti and Nivritti:
Vritti nama antahakarana parinamaha - vritti means transformation of inner-mental tools (antahakaranas). All our mental functions come under vritti. Nivritti means cessation of such transformation. Nivritti phase is same as Jagrat Suchupti conscious state of mind. This is the state of Atman or Brahman as nirguna state.
Chitta vritti (Yoga Sutras) and chetovritti (Sivanandalahari) are one and the same. We can attain these by using sense organs and action organs diverting them from material world to spiritual world. Choosing a favorite deity and chanting His or Her name incessantly is one method when the chitta vritti becomes sattvagunabhooyistha. One can start this as first step even without rigorously following astaagayoga, as a preliminary step. Ordinary seekers can follow this method without recourse to studying books or practicing yama, dama etc. strictly. The result will be the same i.e., attainment of chitta vritti nirodha or peace of mind. Strict following of Astaangayoga anyway gives the required result. Chittavrittti nirodha state and chetovrittirupetya tistati state are one and the same. The first one is Yogamarga and the other is Bhaktimarga. Bhakti sthiti is also tatpara or taatparya sthiti or state of experiencing the meaning of the word, sight, smell, taste or touch known, perceived, understood and experienced. Tatpara Sthiti is Parmaatma or Paramapurusha sthiti. The same is Atmasthiti or Brahma sthiti – the self-realized state.
By yogic methods of enquiry, like Yoga, Bhakti or Jnaana - contemplating, practicing, comprehending and experiencing such methods leads to chitta vritti nirodha and mental strength increases and anistabhaavaparampara (rise of unpleasant thoughts and feelings) can arrested and avoided. During chittavrittinirodha vivartanam of maya (pravanam or prakruti) does not take place. Ego merges itself in its source i.e, Atman. This ego-free or ego-transcending state is the result of chittavritti nirodha. Then we experience aananda the natural quality of purusha. Then aananda the personification of nirvishayasuddhavaasanaa pravaham becomes continuous and eternal that is exists in all the phases of or conscious state of mind as sruti and even if sristi is in dristi, (even though mental functions are taking place) we remain calm uninvolved in these mental functions. Ego will be shed and all happenings are witnessed as Saakshi transcending and uninfluenced by the associated happiness or sorrow and live efficiently with full mental alert non-attached but interested sufficiently for the smooth run of life. This state is compared in the Yoga Sutras to the unhindered flow of water once the farmer removes the obstacle in the fields. Thus we become the flow of unhindered bliss and peace and perform our duties efficiently and effectively.
Kinds of Almighty’s Grace in attaining Self-Realization:
Method of self-realization is not unique. Single general method with mass instruction will not be fruitful. Just as the psychologist treats each case individually so also method of calming mind is individual-specific and heavily depends on one’s mental makeup. It is achieved merely by God’s Grace (maarjaala kisora nyaya) or also by individuals’ conscious effort (kapi kisora nyaya)
God showers His Grace and takes us into His fold. And observation shows that God is sometimes partial in showering His Grace and does it selectively. Some devotees are pampered and also are dealt with special care and some others are tested and not cared for despite their sincere prayers and genuine devotion.
Maarjaala kisora nyaya (Genetical in nature):
In ‘maarjaala kisora nyaaya’ Lord takes care of the devotees as mother Cat takes care of its off spring. The Lord Himself on His own completely graces and guides them even before they make efforts to reach God. Such concern is shown in initiating and sustaining His love and affection for them.
Kapi kisora nyaya (individual’s effort):
In ‘kapi kisora nyaaya’, the devotees cling and clutch to the Lord as the monkey infant clings and clutches its mother monkey firmly and strongly and the mother monkey appears indifferent to and unmindful of the infant and jumps from one branch to another with utter disregard for the safety of the off spring. The off spring alone appears concerned and the mother monkey not at all.
But these are only two different ways and the Lord is equally compassionate and merciful. Devotees are made to always think of Him in both the processes. Apparent indifference in the second case is sport of the Lord.
Spiritual Experiences of Seers that transformed them-Examples of both the nyaayas:
 Siddhartha’s realization under the peepal tree in Gaya transforming into the Buddha:
Even though apparently the individual experiences had by these seers and the technical terms they used to describe them, look not the same, they are all essentially the same process culminating in self-realization. The paths are different but the effect and the result is the same. And in view of their mental makeup (which is a function of their respective genetic and educational and spiritual backgrounds), the methods they followed for self-realization, consciously or otherwise, intentionally or otherwise and other cultural background should have had respective influences. Many seers through generations in India and other places had many transformations and realized the self.
1. Self-realization is putting veil on our ignorance and unveiling our knowledge.
Patterns of activation of brain neurons produce four types of brain waves:
1. Alpha Waves: These rhythmic waves occur at a frequency of about 8—13 Hz. One hertz is one cycle per second. Alpha waves are present in the EEGs of nearly all normal individuals when they are awake and resting with their eyes closed. These waves disappear entirely during sleep. (Jagrat Sushupti - Wakeful Sleep Conscious State)
2. Beta Waves: The frequency of these waves is between 14 and 30 HZ. Beta waves generally appear when the nervous system is active—that is, during periods of sensory input and mental activity. [Jagrat (Wakeful/Awakened) and Swapna (Dream) Conscious States).
3. Theta Waves: These waves have frequencies of 4-7 HZ. Theta waves normally occur in children, and adults experiencing emotional stress. They also occur in many disorders of the brain.
4. Delta Waves: The frequency of these waves is 1-5 Hz. Delta waves occur during deep sleep in adults, but they are normal in awake infants. When produced by an awake adult they indicate brain damage. (Sushupti – Deep Sleep Conscious State).
Physiological Understanding Of Human Mental Process
Human brain, spinal cord and nervous system take care of mental functions. The physiology there in is understood well. Cerebrum does the integrative functions.
Integrative functions of the cerebrum: We turn now to a fascinating, though incompletely understood, function of the cerebrum: integration, the processing of sensory information by analyzing and storing it and making decisions for various responses. The integrative functions include cerebral activities such as sleep and wakefulness, learning and memory, and emotional responses.
Wakefulness and Sleep: Humans sleep and awaken in a 24-hour cycle called a circadian rhythm that is established by the supra-chias-matic nucleus of the hypothalamus. A person who is awake is in a state of readiness and is able to react consciously to various stimuli. EEG recordings show that the cerebral cortex is very active during wakefulness; fewer impulses arise during most stages of sleep.
The Role of the Reticular Activating System in Awakening: How does the nervous system of a person make the transition between these two states, i.e., wakefulness and sleep? Because stimulation of some of its parts increases activity of the cerebral cortex, a portion of the reticular formation is known as the reticular activating system (RAS). When this area is active many nerve impulses are transmitted to widespread areas of the cerebral cortex, both directly and via the thalamus. The effect is a generalized increase in cortical activity.
Arousal or awakening from sleep, also involves increased activity in the RAS.
For arousal to occur, the RAS must be stimulated. Many sensory stimuli can activate the RAS; painful stimuli detected by nociceptors, touch and pressure on the skin, movement of the limbs, bright light or the buzz of an alarm clock. Once the RAS is activated, the cerebral cortex is also activated and arousal occurs. The result is a state of wakefulness called consciousness.
Sleep is a state of altered consciousness or partial unconsciousness from which an individual cn be aroused. Although it is essential, the exact functions of sleep are still unclear. Sleep deprivation impairs attention, learning, and performance. Normal sleep consists of two components: non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.
Integrative functions of the cerebrum:
Sleep and wakefulness are integrative functions that are controlled by the suprachiasmatic nucleus and the reticular activating system (RAS).
The process of sensation begins in a sensory receptor, which can either be a specialized cell or the dendrites of a sensory neuron. As previously noted, a given sensory receptor responds vigorously to one particular kind of stimulus, a change in the environment that can activate certain sensory receptors. A sensory receptor responds only weakly or not at all to other stimuli. This characteristic of sensory receptors is known as selectivity.
1. Stimulation of the sensory receptor: An appropriate stimulus must occur within the sensory receptor’s receptive field, that is, the body region where stimulation produces a response.
2. Transduction of the stimulus: A sensory receptor transduces (converts) energy in a stimulus into a graded potential. Graded potentials vary in amplitude (size), depending on the strength of the stimulus that causes them and are not propagated. Each type of sensory receptor exhibits selectivity. It can transduce only one kind of stimulus. For example, odorant molecules in the air stimulate olfactory (smell) receptors in the nose, which transducer the molecules’ chemical energy into electrical energy in the form of graded potential.
3. Generation of nerve impulses: When a grades potential in a sensory neuron reaches threshold, it triggers one or more nerve impulses, which then propagate toward the CNS. Sensory neurons that conduct impulses from the PNS into the CNS are called first-order neurons.
4. Integration of sensory input: A particular region of the CNS receives and integrates the sensory nerve impulses. Conscious sensations or perceptions are integrated in the cerebral cortex. You seem to see with your eyes, hear with your ears, and feel pain in a injured part of your body, because sensory impulses from each part of the body arrive in a specific region of the cerebral cortex, which interprets the sensation as coming from the stimulated sensory receptors.
These functions are reflected as brain waves whose frequency varies depending on the conscious and functional state of mind.
EEG and Brain Waves:
At any instant brain neurons are generating millions of nerve impulses (action potentials). Taken together these electrical signals are called brain waves. Brain waves generated by neurons close to the brain surface, mainly neurons in the cerebral cortex, can be detected by sensors called electrodes placed on the forehead and scalp. A record of such waves is called an electroencephalogram or EEG. Electroencephalograms are useful both in studying normal brain functions, such as changes that occur during sleep, and in diagnosing a variety of brain disorders, such epilepsy, tumors, trauma, hematomas, .metabolic abnormalities, sites of trauma, and degenerative diseases. The EEG is also utilized to determine if “life” is present, that is, to establish or confirm that brain death has occurred.
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05/16/2015 14:18 PM
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