Tuesday, October 20, 2009

YOU CREATE YOUR OWN WORLD!

Recent Advances in Understanding the Working of Brain – Two TED Videos of about 15 mins

Neuroscience already debunked the existence of a 'self' (the small separate "me" we think we have inside us). It also established that there is a 'disconnect' between 'reality' out there and our 'perception.'

Your brain shows an interpretation of what is perceived depending on what it learnt in its past, the stored impressions. The brain even fills gaps in the information to show you what you need to know. Even the colors you see are not necessarily what exactly are out there. We know only what our brain ‘maps’ as what is out there rather than what exactly IS there!

Watch this entertaining and informative TED talk of Beau Lotto at:

http://www.ted.com/talks/beau_lotto_optical_illusions_show_how_we_see.html

Scientists are now able to tease out how the 100 billion neurons and their interconnections in the brain create a world for you. Dr. Henry Markram "uses complex models to precisely simulate the human brain top layers in 3D..... it has been edging up on some deep, contentious philosophical questions about the mind ."

You can have a peek at his work in the TED video at:

http://www.ted.com/talks/henry_markram_supercomputing_the_brain_s_secrets.html

Advaita philosophy tells in unequivocal terms that the perceived world is an illusion. The world we create is nothing more than a thought. It is merely a "castle in the air." We build the castle because of the force of our past impressions – the Vedantic term is vasanas. We trap ourselves in that bubble of a castle, our own creation. And being caught up in the imaginary world of ours is described as "bondage." You cannot even destroy this world because you cannot physically hammer to pieces a purely imaginary construction which is not really there. "Freedom" or "Moksha" is to jump out of it and just “Be.”

Will modern neuroscience take us nearer to the Truth that advaita has been telling us for millennia of years?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

“SEEING IS BELIEVING.” IS IT REALLY SO?

[First a Welcome:
It is a pleasure to Welcome Satya and Girish Duvvuri to the Blog. We look forward to the inputs and inquisitive questions from these young minds -- ramesam.]

Is What We Perceive Out There Solid And Substantial ?

If we look at the tree in the lawn or hear the screech of a car tyre on the road, we think there is a solid object out there.

The ancient Indian Sages doubted it. They said that what we see as the world is an illusion. It is like seeing water in a mirage or still worse it is like mistaking a rope to be a ‘snake.’ In fact there is or was never a snake in that place. The appearance of a snake was merely an assumption in twilight. It has always been a rope only.

Latest Neuroscientific research too tells us that we do not "see" really what is out there. Dr. S. L. Macnik and Dr. S. Martinez-Conde wrote in 2008:

"Whether we experience the feeling of "redness," the appearance of "squareness," or emotions such as love and hate, these are the results of the electrical activity of neurons in our brain."

It is so because our senses and nervous system extracts only certain info. from the natural world.

 We hear fluctuations of air pressure not as waves but as sounds.
 We see electromagnetic waves of different frequency as colors.
 We perceive chemical compounds dissolved in air or water as smells or tastes.

Peter Dziuban in Chapter 13 of his book, "Consciousness Is All" graphically describes how mistaken we are in thinking that the world is made up of solid substance. Take for example that you "see" a red apple.

Quoting from his Book:

"How does the "mind" know anything about that apple — or even claim an apple is there in the first place?

The sensing "mind" experiences a specific visual sensation, which also could be called an appearance, or a mental image of the apple. That particular visual sensation of red color and roundish shape is one way the mind differentiates an apple from other items, such as a book or a hand. Simultaneously with this visual sensation, the mind experiences a particular tactile sensation of the apple; there is a feeling of weight and texture when holding it. Also simultaneously, there may be a sense of sound associated with an apple, such as crunching when a bite is taken. There also is a sensation of taste, and a scent.

Each of the five senses contributes its particular "aspect" of the apple to the mind. As a result of all the sensations it experiences, the mind instantly says to itself, "An apple is here."

Now look again.

A question long pondered by philosophers concerns the nature of the substance of this whole apple experience. Exactly what kind of substance is one dealing with here?

The entire and only basis on which the mind would say an apple is present, is by way of the senses. Absolutely everything the mind would know about the apple is thanks to a visual sensation, a sensation of touch or feel, a sound, a taste and smell. The mind’s entire "evidence" is sensations.

Now ask yourself, what makes up the apple itself — that supposedly is giving off this sensory experience to the mind?

Really stop a moment. Ask yourself what the apple itself consists of, apart from those five sensations.

When you try to think of what an apple is, entirely apart from those five sensations — what happens?

You can’t think of anything.

And why can’t you think of anything besides the sensations?

Because there isn’t anything.

There are only the sensations!

There are not the sensations of an apple and an apple! Sensations are the entire and only "substance." There is no apple that is a standalone physical object "out there," with its own substance, in addition to the sensations experienced by the mind. The "apple" would be entirely mental — consisting one hundred percent of sensations only.

Go ahead. First take away those five sensations. Then see if you still can come up with an "apple." Poof! The "apple" is non-existent. The "apple" as a separate, solid object didn’t go anywhere. It never was out there as a separate object in the first place!

The mind’s experiencing of sensations results in what is called an apple, but never is there a separate item "out there." All there would be is a series of images, feelings, tastes, sounds and smells — experienced entirely by the mind.

There is nothing else there."

We think we see something when there is actually something else or nothing is there. That is the reason why we get fooled by a lot of magic tricks.
Macnik and Martinez-Conde’s article on "Attention and awareness in stage magic: turning tricks into research" contains many links to magic shows. Their article is at:

http://www.nature.com/nrn/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nrn2473.html

Prof. R. Wiseman, a Neuropsychologist and himself a Magician gives many hilarious examples of how our mind deceives us. His site:

http://www.quirkology.com/
http://www.richardwiseman.com/

These web sites are quite enjoyable to elders as well as youngsters.