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Consciousness in Modern Science, Jainism and Theosophy

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(This article is also posted under > Science)

Note[1]

Introduction

When we think of ‘science’ in the modern world, we must realize that we are talking about a relatively short period of European history. This European science has particular dogmas, particular axioms and particular beliefs related to the culture and time frame we live. Science is no new phenomenon of the human mind. Science may have existed in some form or another since the beginning of human thought. Perception and interpretation and the wish to understand are natural faculties of the human mind. It exists parallel or in unity with religion and philosophy. We should realize that ‘science’ is not a unique and novel privilege of the modern world, and remind ourselves that the findings and conclusions of modern science are to be regarded in a very relative sense – not necessarily greater in knowledge or deeper in understanding than science of other cultures and other times. It is true that technology has taken a high flight in the modern western world and given us possibilities hardly dreamed of in earlier periods. There are microscopes and telescopes, and a large knowledge about the practical application of electricity and electromagnetic waves. The more remarkable it is that Jainism – probably before Democritus, the ancient Greek who thought out the atomic model on which modern science still leans – already had a doctrine about the existence of atoms (anu) as fundamental smallest unit for each type of matter, and of molecules, composed of atoms arranged geometrically.

Nevertheless the believe in modern technology led many westerners and other modern people to the haughty conclusion that our modern findings are surpassing everything that came before us or elsewhere on the planet. And, regrettably, many still adhere to that haughtiness, this overestimation of the self or the own culture. Still there is not the slightest reason to suppose that the DNA of recent times has brought forth human beings of greater intelligence than before. On the contrary, we can see from the field of philosophy that many ancient thinkers reached far beyond and above the results of modern philosophy.

There are many fields of knowledge in which modern science has no proper understanding of phenomena, many things to which no satisfactory answers can be given yet. The result is that one has come up with, what are from a more relativistic point of view the ‘weirdest’ theories to explain Nature and the Cosmos, such as Darwinism; Big Bang theory; the rise of consciousness from physical matter; the all-overpowering ‘fact’ of absolute chance as interpreted by adherents of quantum mechanics; blind selfishness as the only true guiding force of evolution, and the denial of spirituality and divinity. Even the possible existence of more subtle forms of matter than our visible physical matter and its invisible energies is denied by most scientists. More serious, philosophically, ethically and socially is that such hypotheses, though widely believed and accepted by the main stream, have become dogmas which some scientist defend with the same zeal as religious fanatics. The victims of such scientific ‘advertisement campaigns’ presented as ‘truth’ are the common people – who tend to belief what the authorities say – and some scientists poison the whole thought atmosphere of our planet in which we all breath mentally. Dominant modern science in Europe excludes every medical and alchemistic knowledge of the past, even though millions of people throughout the ages have benefited from such knowledge. Believing that we modern people are the first to have a sane approach to knowledge and truth, and that all earlier efforts were but childish guesses and superstitions due to lack of technology, has put a stop to our possibility to tap from the resources of other cultures and ancient times. Most modern scientists tend to regard the great scientific teachings of, for example, the Hindu Purāṇas and the Jain Āgamas or the Chinese and Tibetan scriptures as no more than relics of a time past – which they regard as a time of fantasy and belief in unreal gods.

But that will change. Our global culture, with its many kaleidoscopic variations, may have thousands of years of development to look forward to – at least that is what we may suppose. We today are just in the beginning phase of globalization, and globalization is so far mainly concerned with money, travel and telecommunication. Would-be ‘spiritual globalization’ has been at least partly poisoned by money-greedy ‘gurus’ and their superficial yogas, casting a veil before the essence of yoga. True globalization involves an effort to understand the heart, not the surface, of cultures. It involves a genuine effort to really understand what the source of all ideas is – all ideas, right and wrong, of all times. Because there is only one Cosmic Mind working within Universal Truth – in which humanity takes part together with all other life-forms – and that Cosmic Mind is infinite in its colors and hues.

Five elements

In this lecture we will discuss a few ideas among scientists relating to consciousness. One of the fundamental mistakes of western science is that it recognizes and believes in physical matter only. The result is that scientist can only use the known properties of physical matter to explain the world. Life and consciousness are seen as emergent properties from the inherent properties of physical matter. The idea of other, more subtle forms of matter, is generally denied. Even the element of ākāśa or aether – space as an element apart from earth, water air and fire, which was accepted by western science until the late nineteenth century, was then denied. Albert Einstein built his theory on the denial of aether. Even more so during the twentieth century, with the philosophical victory of the so-called logical positivists. They denied even the existence of anything in the universe which could not be physically perceived or measured. They limited science to the physical realm, syllogistic logic and mathematics.

Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, Hermetici, Theosophists and many others have always confirmed the existence of more subtle forms of matter. The concept ‘pudgala’ (usually translated as ‘matter’) in Jainism does not only refer to physical matter, but also to the subtle forms of matter of which the taijasa (fiery or ‘electric’) and kārmana śarīras etc. are built. Jainism also states that the universe or loka is filled with ākāśa, and even outside loka, the realm of which we are ignorant called aloka, is filled with ākāśa, called alokākāśa. In Hinduism we hear, for example, apart from the annamayakośa (physical body) about a prāṇamayakośa, manomayakośa, vijñānamayakośa and ānadamayakośa[2]. Theosophy speaks even of seven degrees of matter, of which physical matter is the lowest, the least subtle, and no more that the crust or foam on the totality of phases of substance. Theosophy speaks also of seven souls, seven egos, and seven jīvas or monads or consciousness centers for every human being.

This story could be extended with numerous other examples. Then why does ‘modern science’ deny all this – or bluntly refuses to pay attention to the information reached out forward by so many earlier scientists and philosophers?

We also know from Jainism and other thought systems that consciousness is the core of being, and the origin and cause of all existing phenomena in the seen and in unseen universes.

Because virtually all thinkers and meditators on Earth have concluded that consciousness exists universally and before any manifestation of phenomena, I propose to call such views ‘universal views’ in contradistinction to ‘modern views.’ Modern views belong only to this narrow time frame in which we now live. Moreover they change all the time, and conclusions often seem as evanescent as clouds over the deserts.

Though it appears that the main stream of scientists and their followers is still completely materialistic, their stronghold begins to show bursts. Great masses of common people now believe in reincarnation, and in mind and consciousness beyond the grave. Common men are often fond of stories which refer to unseen worlds of spooks, spirits and fairies and the actions of gods. Such stories vibrate with an inner conviction or at least hope that such unseen worlds more subtle than physical matter indeed exist. Some scientists feel that the processes of consciousness, feeling, thinking are too subtle, too refined and deep to be explained from the chemical processes and interactions between relatively coarse physical molecules. A more refined substance than physical matter would be required. Also thousands of well documented paranormal phenomena which obviously take place outside the realm of physical matter, like appearances and past-life memories have to be explained and this can not be done within the framework of physical matter alone.

Let me ask a question: How could religious men and women of wisdom all over the world and in all times have given minute descriptions of all kinds and types of beings invisible for normal eyes, and explain phenomena which in our ignorance people tend to call ‘miracles’ or ‘divine interventions’ – and this often in detail, accompanied by ‘exact’ numbers? The answer is simple: many yogis and occult scientists throughout the ages have taken the trouble to investigate the so-called astral worlds, worlds beyond the physical world which are imperceptible as long as we have not developed our astral senses.

Even within the hardcore materialistic world of science some of the more philosophically or spiritually inclined try to reach out beyond their harness of preconceived and pre-educated ideas. Like snails protruding their heads carefully a little bit out of their shells, some scientists dare to have a sniff of alternative, less materialistic ideas. But even then, their colleagues, out of fear perhaps, or out of worry for the loss of scientific (=positivistic) purity, try to push their heads back into their shells. They scold and despise their more broadly minded colleagues. Paranormal phenomena they simply deny, shun away from, or give some non-expert explanation. Few are courageous enough to stretch themselves out fully into the realms of the unknown, the spirit.

Still, if consciousness itself is a universal thing, it can only be understood when one opens one’s mind for the universal. And if everything ultimately is born from and ruled by consciousness, called jīva (literally ‘life’) or ātma or brahm or Allah, etc. no real knowledge can ever be acquired if one investigates physical matter only, the physical is one narrow aspect of reality only.

There is a mental world apart from the physical world

Especially in the last quarter of the twentieth century and after, more intuitive voices began to rise. One example is John Eccles, a brain scientist, and Nobel Prize winner in 1963 for his work on synapses (contact structures connecting nerve cells). He wrote some fifteen books about brain and consciousness, and notable are his last published works (he died in 1997): Evolution of the Brain (1989), Consciousness explained (1991) and How the Self Controls the Brain (1994). His view was that “we have a non-material mind or self which acts upon, and is influenced by, our material brains; there is a mental world in addition to the physical world, and the two interact.” Elsewhere he even accepts the possibility that this non-material mind may survive physical death. Eccles, with philosopher Karl Popper, was of view that there are three worlds: 1. Physical objects and states (including the physical brain); 2. States of consciousness (the experience of: perception by the (five) senses, thinking, emotions, dispositional intentions, memories, dreams, and creative imagination.) It also includes the ‘self.’ As to this second world Eccles also says: “In addition (to the coarse levels of perception) there is a level of inner sense, which is the world of more subtle perceptions. It is the world of your emotions, of your feelings of joy and sadness and fear and anger and so on. It includes all your memory, and all your imaginings and planning into the future.”; and 3. Knowledge in the objective sense (which includes culture and written records). Eccles thinks that the mind is not a substance at all, whereas the brain of course consists of matter. However meditative and sophisticated Eccles’ views on the world of consciousness are, being a devout Christian apparently unaware of other religious systems, could not solve the problem of: How do the mental world (mind/ consciousness) interact with the physical brain? Eccles has more or less solved this problem in the following way. He writes about this in his How the Self Controls Its Brain. He said that there are fundamental neural units in the cerebral cortex, called ‘dendrons,’ which are cylindrical bundles of neurons arranged vertically in the six outer layers or laminae of the cortex, each cylinder being about 60 micrometres in diameter. Eccles proposed that each of the 40 million dendrons is linked with a mental unit, or ‘psychon,’ representing a unitary conscious experience. In willed actions and thought, psychons act on dendrons for a moment, increase the probability of the firing of selected neurons through quantum tunneling effect in synaptic exocytosis, while in perception the reverse process takes place.

Probability

Here when speaking about ‘probability’ he leans on quantum theory: physical units (i.e. mathematical wave functions) can, according to one interpretation, ‘dissolve’ instantaneously ‘in a superposition of probability waves. Then later, the ‘wave packet’ is supposed to spontaneously ‘collapse’ in some random or unexplained way, into a localized particle again. As the processes are random, causality plays no role in the relation between the first and the second event. Nevertheless Eccles speculates that the mind can influence the probability of neural events. But this is just speculation, not knowledge. So here we hit on another very important presupposition of modern science, i.e, the existence of ‘absolute chance’ – as opposed to causality and the laws of karma. Karma is a concept that was taken in the hoary past from Jainism, and adopted by post-Vedic Hinduism and Buddhism. Even the pre-Columbian ‘Red Indians’ in America (e.g. The Oglala Sioux or Oceti Sakowin Indians in the North) teach the idea of karma (of course not using that word) in their mythology.[3]

The existence of karma as a fact in Nature can only be accepted by modern science and philosophy if the existence of a more subtle type of matter beyond where quantum theory can go is accepted. It may appear then, in future scientific research, that what nowadays is called ‘chance’ is just our present ignorance about what Jains call karma pudgala, and karmaṇa śarīra. When science has left its self-created obstacles of absolute non-causality and of the uniqueness of physical matter, grand new fields of understanding may open up in the next centuries. But, of course, such knowledge of subtle matter and its infinitude of properties, characteristics and processes, can not be acquired by physical instruments alone. Scientist will need to involve their own, subtle, inner instruments or faculties of perception, nowadays vaguely called ‘clairvoyance’ ‘spiritual intuition’ and ultimately alluded to as ‘omniscience.’

Subtler matters

So here you have seen an example of a snail just protruding his head, however intelligent this particular ‘snail’ is – but than he stops. If Eccles had known of Theosophy, Jainism, or other great thought systems (and taken them seriously) he would have immediately understood that the mind which stands over matter itself had to be substantial – at least common in nature with physical matter to such an extend that information is communicable between these substances. He could never have said that mind was completely non-substantial. Jainism has taught since ages that there is a living soul or jīva at the core of each individual being, and that it is this soul which ‘vibrates’ (i.e. produces wave signals) as soon as there is thought or desire or activity. Such thoughts or desires immediately attract particles of subtle matter, called karma-pudgala, which cling to the soul. Together these particles – no doubt with their own complex chemical structure – form the karmic body around the soul. It is this subtle matter which carries the information of past actions and thoughts and feelings. Then, in a next incarnation or embodiment of the jīva, it are these karmas which determine our destiny in detail: where we will be born, what will be the features of our body, how long we will live, and how clear or obstructed our mind and other faculties will be, what attractions we feel – and this attraction may well be scientific knowledge, as in our case. So in Jainism, the soul or jīva is eternal, has ever been and will ever be, but its external activities can be in the form of feelings and thoughts, i.e. movements vibrations. It is the mind-consciousness aspect of the soul which builds the karmic body, so it is the mind-consciousness which is, via processes of pudgalas ((Pudgala = Matter, both physical and more subtle)) more subtle than physical matter, responsible for our body and life.

What the modern scientific world still has to accept and embrace is the necessity of the existence of degrees or types of matter which are of a more subtle nature, but still, in a deeper, connecting sense, belong to the same Universal Nature of which each and every being and thing is build.

Higgs Field

The CERN institute in Geneva, Europe, with its gigantic particle accelerators and collision experiments still operates within the realm of physical matter so far, but it approaches the limit. Most interesting is the recent almost-confirmation of the existence of the so-called Higgs-boson and the Higgs field, named after its devisor, P.W. Higgs. The Higgs field is a ubiquitous quantum field supposed to be responsible for giving elementary particles their masses. Particles are, according to quantum physics, represented by oscillations or persistent changes in these fields. Like oscillations in the electromagnetic field are called photons, those in the Higgs field are called Higgs bosons. The Higgs field is that which is behind matter in which matter exists and from which it comes. Physicists are now becoming convinced that empty space itself is a complicated environment from which rise many results. Background fields permeate empty space. It is of far greater density than physical matter, and it is more subtle. No doubt it has its own properties, of which little is known so far. It is present everywhere in the universe, both inside and outside things and beings and so-called elementary particles. If science gets access to this “Higgs World” it will perhaps be the beginning of opening up the realm of knowledge beyond physical matter. Then it may appear to be a fact of Nature that physical matter is just a coarse form of matter, a crust as it were, on matter as such. Jains and others propagated such ideas – or is it true knowledge? – already thousands of years ago.

Those thought systems in which a duality between consciousness and matter, or spirit and matter is distinguished, are called dualistic systems. Eccles, with his ‘three worlds hypothesis’ called himself a ‘trialist’. Others, like Theosophists, Buddhists and Advaitins, deny dualism and say there is only one World or Universe, and such people are called non-dualists. Jainism is a dualistic system and makes a strong and fundamental distinction between jīva and ajīva, loka and aloka, soul and matter. Apart from a few abstract concepts like time, space, motion and non-motion, Jains regard pudgala, matter, as distinct from jīva, life. In this it agrees with main stream modern science. Even subtle matter is fundamentally lifeless according to Jainism. But in Jainism life and consciousness is a thing separate from matter, whereas in western science consciousness and life are emergent properties of matter. Both modern science and Jainism face the problem of how to explain the influence of the one on the other. The secret of the transfer of information seems to be ‘resonance.’ Resonance means the sounding of the same sound, the same frequency – but this may be in a different octave. On a musical instrument a snare of double or half the length may be made to resound with the original frequency, because it contains the same information sequence.

Universality of life and consciousness

In Theosophy, there is no distinction between life and non-life. In the theosophical doctrine life and consciousness are the source as well as the all-pervading essence of all existing things. According to Theosophy everything that is natural has its own monad of jīva, including atoms, molecules, elementary particles, elemental beings, minerals up to divinities and more. In fact every being is a complex and compound entity having jīvas on different levels. For example, humans have seven jīvas as a human being, apart from the jīvas of all his cells, atoms, electrons and prāṇic particles, etc. These seven jīvas are the astral-physical, the animal, the psychic, the intellectual, the spiritual, and what they call the spiritually divine jīva. Theosophy strongly emphasizes that every existing thing is build on the same principles and of related substances. “So above, so below; as it is on the largest scale, it is on the smallest scale (relatively of course, because no ultimate largest or smallest exists). It is the grand unity of life, which includes substance.

Every conscious being, every jīva, forms itself a vehicle, a body (whether visible or invisible) to express itself. The matter from which these vehicles or bodies are made though, are inherently of the same nature as the spirit. Matter and spirit are one. They are not two formally distinct things in the universe. It is like the upper and the lower side of a circle. So, for each human being consisting of seven jīvas (as far as we ourselves are concerned) there are seven upādhis. There is a physical upādhi, i.e. our physical body. There is prāṇic-astral upādhi or soul (soul, in Theosophy is distinct from jīva: the jīva being the ‘rider’ the soul being the ‘horse.’). Lifeless pudgala does not exist as a concept in Theosophy. Atoms too, have there own jīva. Every jīva is an emanation of a jīva of a higher order. Thus, all beings are in actual fact and literally connected to each other, in every aspect.

Putting ‘life’ and ‘consciousness’ in scheme makes it easier to compare Science, Jainism and Theosophy:

Jainism Have life Havecon-scious-ness Accept-edScience

Have life

Have con-

scious-

ness

Theo-

sophy

Have life

Have con-

scious-

ness

Basic matter (pudgala) no no Atoms or subatomic particles

no

no

Physical matter

yes

yes

Subtle matter no no Energies

no

no

Etheric matter

yes

yes

Invisible super-and subterrestrial beings yes yes Forces en energies

no

no

Astral beings

yes

yes

Element lives(1-sensed):Earth jīvasWater jīvasAir jīvasFirejiva’s yesyesyes

yes

yesyesyes

yes

Mineral kingdom, consisting of 92 ‘atomic’ chemical elements

no

no

Ele-

mental

beings

yes

yes

Nigodas (basic life forms) yes yes Basic life-forms

yes

?

Minerals

yes

yes

Plants yes yes Plants

yes

?

Plants

yes

yes

Animals yes yes Animals

yes

(yes)

Animals

yes

yes

Humans yes yes Humans

yes

yes

Humans

yes

yes

Past-human (hell-beings) yes yes (?)

Kāma-rūpas

yes

yes

Past-human (celestial beings), ‘divinities’ yes yes

Deva-chanis

yes

yes

Omniscients and Liberated Beings yes yes omni-scients

Buddhas

yes

yes

 

There are scientists however who begin to think in different directions. Willis Harman of the Institute of Noetic Sciences in California says: “Modern science is based on two main assumptions: a) separateness – of man from nature, of mind from matter, organism from environment, and the separability of the parts of a system or organism of the totality of a system or organism to understand how it ‘realy’ works and b) that the scientific picture of reality should be based solely on physical sense data.” He calls for an ‘extended science’ or ‘wholeness science,’ based on two opposing assumptions: “a) that everything is interconnected, that the physical universe and consciousness, mind and matter, form a fundamental oneness or wholeness; and b) that there are two windows for acquiring knowledge of reality: the objective, through the physical senses, and the subjective, through the intuitive and aesthetic faculties.”

It is notable that Willis Harman said: ‘everything is interconnected, like the Jains have said for ages: ‘parāsparograho jīvanam.’ – though few Jains may be aware of the esoteric depth of this statement and the depth of insight of their tīrthaṅkaras. He also states that ‘the physical universe and consciousness, mind and matter, form a fundamental oneness’ and thus rejects the duality between life/consciousness and matter as taught by Jainism.

Information which stands apart from physical matter

Another person contributing to above-mentioned institute, Richard Dixey, states that ‘emergent properties’ like mind and consciousness ‘are more than just the product of interactions between the parts of the system concerned.’ What has to be added is ‘information’ This information (Dixey doesn’t say where this information is contained or comes from) he says, is ‘potentially infinite’ and ‘binds itself to matter, giving rise to a law-like behavior of matter, and the new properties that emerge from matter are brought about because matter is arranged in increasingly complex forms on basis of this information. From a Jain point of view, that ‘information’ is of course the kārmaṇa body bound to the jīva, and the jīva is infinite in knowledge and time. The difference between Dixey and Jainism is that Dixey puts it the wrong way when he says that ‘information is bound to matter.’ In stead he should have said: ‘information is bound to the soul by the complex arrangement of matter in the form of the karma body.’ He might then have called the ‘karma body’ the ‘information body’ instead. He would then have understood that the refined information contained in this karmic matter would be the blueprint for not only physical matter, but for the tendencies of the mind and feelings as well. Consciousness per se is the jīva, but individual experience is karma. Nevertheless Dixey moves in a direction which is closer to the ancient wisdom of many non-western cultures.

From a Theosophical point of view, the ‘particles of karma’ are themselves living beings, elemental beings, each of which has a jīva, and thus each has consciousness and a specific life influence, through which it almost automatically performs its dharma to bring out particular effects. These karmic elementals, as Theosophy calls them, are attracted each time when a person has a thought or feeling or emotion, just as in Jainism. The difference however is that these information carriers are not mere lifeless Pudgala, but living entities.

The mind always existed

George Wald, a biologist who won the Nobel prize in 1967 for his work on the retina, has stated that ‘rather than being a very late development of evolution of living things, restricted to organisms with the most complex nervous systems, mind has always existed’ and he was of the view that ‘the universe is life-breeding because the pervasive presence of mind has guided it to be so.’ So in the views of this top biologist, we find a reflection of the Hindu and Theosophical concept of Mahat – Cosmic Mind – from which creation (i.e. the sequence of forms of existence) proceeds and is guided in eternity in each successive creation. George Wald also adds that “the new biology needs to recognize that organisms are ‘self-organizing wholes’ With that we will all agree. The center of self-organization is the jīva or ātma, which take part in universal consciousness and omniscience and freedom.

By the way: the idea of ‘creation’ of the Hindus is in no way contradictory to the ‘beginningless universe’ of the Jains and Buddhists. The one just exists or takes place within the other.

Many implicate orders

A progressive thinker was an American quantum physicist who contributed to theoretical physics, philosophy of mind, and neuropsychology. David Bohm1 is, apart from his own work, famous for his public videotaped discussions with the Tamil Nadu born philosopher J. Krishnamurti and had repeated contact with the Dalai Lama. David Bohm attacks the common view of quantum theory in which ‘absolute chance’ is the central theme, and he sees no need for a counter-intuitive notion as ‘wave-function collapse.’ Wave-function collapse in corroboration with the ‘absolute-chance’ concept, destroys the notion of causality. In common quantum theory events can take place without a connected preceding cause. This of course contradicts the Eastern ideas of causality and connectedness and karma. He states, quite logically, that although we are [with our knowledge of the materials of the cosmos] unable to measure exact locality and motion of a minute particle, they nevertheless follow causal trajectories, guided by a subtler force (the ‘quantum potential’) – subtler forces I would rather say – operating from a deeper, implicate, more mind-like level of reality. So David Bohm is one of the few scientists who supports the idea of a subtler level of force than the forces known and studied by present-day science. He speaks of an ‘implicate (i.e. enfolded, involved, connected) order’ beyond physically perceptible reality. Bohm argues that “consciousness is not simply a byproduct of [physical] matter, but is rooted deep in the implicate order, and is therefore present to some degree in all material forms.” This is completely in agreement with spiritual and esoteric teachings. He adds that “Everything material is also mental, and everything mental is also material, but there are many more infinitely subtle levels of matter than we are aware of,” and he suggests that there are an infinitude of implicate orders as well.

Several bodies within one man

From a Theosophical point of view the physical world is just the outer layer of a grant totality, and is formed and maintained from within. It is the astral or etheric body which forms a model of the physical, and on the astral of etheric body is impressed the information from within, i.e. the stored desires and thoughts and tendencies brought over from former existences – which are the being’s karma – as well as from the continuous immersion of the total being by the monadic or jīvic aura. So from the Theosophical point of view David Bohm is close to the truth when he speaks of ‘many more … subtle levels’ and an ‘implicate’ (or innate or inherent) order as well as when he speaks of a multitude of implicate orders.

Genetic determinism

According to Bruce H. Lipton[4], research into the manner in which cells receive and process information shows that the life of a cell is not controlled by its DNA alone – which merely contains blueprints for the synthesis of proteins. Rather it should be emphasized that impulses from outside the cell play a very important and determining role, and that the cell has the mechanism to perceive and interpret external information. The physical and the energetic environment can directly influence or control the binding of regulatory proteins (which make out about half of the biomass of the chromosomes – the other half being the DNA itself). “Regulatory genes direct the activity of protein-encoding genes, but environmental signals control how regulatory proteins bind to DNA,” says Lipton. The science which is concerned with these surface-proteins is called epigenetics. Lipton states that the external influences on the activities of DNA can also be, for example, the human mind. They can also be sensual impressions or perceptions.

If we compare this with the classical Jain teachings, we see that the jīva, which has omniscience (universal knowledge and wisdom) at its disposal as a inherent property, and also is the true conscious actor behind every outward event, is surrounded by the karmic code (the ‘chemical’ code of the karmapudgala) of all recent as well as long-past thoughts, emotions, and that these are being transferred to the physical level when the (next) body is formed; and also that our reactions to sensual, psychological and mental impressions are continuously influencing the course of events in near and remote future. Lipton has expressed much of what jains have called bhava and dravya karma. What Jains can still teach to science is the fact that there are different grades of matter, most of which are more subtle that the coarse form of pudgala which science nowadays studies. Jains can also teach to modern science that, though the conglomerates of the various pudgalas may disintegrate (e.g. as a result of good actions, good thoughts, austerity etc.), the essential being – jīva – the life and consciousness, never disintegrates, and that thus we ourselves make ourselves; and that external influences, through obstructive or destructive, do never take away our responsibility for what we are and what happens to us. It would be a great break-through and liberation of the human mind in the world at large if one is freed from the belief in genetic or material determinism as taught by the classical neo-Darwinists.

The scientific ideas and findings discussed above jeopardize the classical view that one gene defines for one protein, and therewith the whole build-up of the organism including its psychological, mental and spiritual compounds. It is rather the other way around: the psychological, mental and spiritual imprints (for which we, as ‘human souls’ are consciously responsible) influence the field of activity of DNA. Moreover gene-mapping has shown that the number of genes (some 25,000) in a complex beings like a human is very much smaller than originally assumed. (Strange enough ‘simple’ organisms often have many more genes than humans). This alone calls for an explanation beyond a mere one-to-one gene-to-protein coding.

These findings, if confirmed and accepted, are of paramount importance for medical science also, because we can open ourselves for a scientifically acceptable explanation of the influence of emotion, mind and spiritual experience of diseases and their cures – including placebo.

In conclusion: DNA is not a rigidly (though mutable) reproducible code, but is alterable by external influences by perception of the cell as well as ‘higher internal’ influences like our mind and, expectably, moral decisions. The organism is in constant flux together with its environment. The epigenetic mechanism also explains the easy adaptability in organisms to external circumstances and the fact that such adaptations may be relatively inherited over generations, but still maintain the retroversion of such adaptations when no longer needed. (E.g. plants and animals may develop hairs or fur over several generations when transplanted to cooler climates, and their progeny will keep such hairs or fur even if they are brought back to the original environment of the species – but then, when staying there, the old physiology and habitus may return within a few generations.

Modern science is ever developing, ever challenging for the investigative mind, and often convergent with older theories, in this case the Jain ideas. This may result in a new fill-in and refinement of ancient ideas, first taught by those whom we call ‘omniscients.’

Brain science

While on many places on the globe scientists stand up to convey a little bit of an intuitive grasping of spiritual reality, main stream materialistic scientists continue to do brain research, hoping to find consciousness and mind within the physical brain and then unravel it. Brain research does have its use though: for medical purposes, but also for refining our insight in the complexity of the nervous system. For example, it was found that our body reacts to stimuli like pain before our personal consciousness becomes aware of it: in other words, the process of transmission within the physiological system is quicker than the transmission of the information to the mental consciousness. By means of a particular instrument, researchers are able to magnetically ‘confuse’ the part of the brain-nerves through which the information towards mental consciousness is transported – and the patient never becomes aware of the information of say, burning his finger, even though the physiological system has already withdrawn the finger. We should not make the mistake to think that every process of our bodies necessarily has to touch our personal, mental consciousness. Many processes are fully automatic as it were. From a Theosophical point of view however there are seven monads or jīvas, each with their own consciousness, so we may say that even if we personally are not conscious of many processes, our body is consciousness on its level, and has the inherent knowledge/intelligence to do what it must.

We all know that in the field of psychology particular traumatic experiences may become completely suppressed on the level of personal consciousness, but they can continue to manifest in dream consciousness or under specific circumstances of stress. Consciousness has many layers, which may be connected by ‘blockades’ of forgetfulness or by channels of communication, and that such may be sometimes closed and at other times partly or fully open (at least as far as a lower consciousness can contain the transferred information of the higher).

Willis Harman of the Institute of Noetic Sciences mentioned earlier said when he referred to main stream science: “… the modern scientific worldview is inherently flawed and misleading in ways vital to the well-being of individuals and societies, and inimical to the future viability of human civilization.’

– Rajasthani

Websites:

Much information for this paper was taken from David Pratt’s website

Exploring Theosophy

This paper is also published on the Jain website HereNow4U.net

1 According to Wikipedia Bohm is widely considered to be one of the most significant theoretical physicists of the 20th century; and: David Bohm was widely considered one of the best quantum physicists of all time.

  1. Paper prepared for a lecture on 22 Oct 2012

    At the National Conference on Jain Philosophy, Science and Scriptures

    22-24 Oct 2012, Terapanth Bhavan, Jasol RJ [<<]

  2. Meaning respectively: sheath or body of food, energy, mind, higher consciousness and eternal bliss. [<<]
  3. see the article Karma in the Oglala Indian Tradition on this site [<<]
  4. Lipton, Bruce H., The Biology of Belief: Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter and Miracles. Santa Rosa CA, 2005. [<<]