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Karma, Mind, and Quest for HappinessThe Concrete and Accurate Science of Infinite Truth
By Susmit Kumar
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2012 Dr. Susmit Kumar
All right reserved.
When the Indian Air Force patrolled the Andaman Islands after the 2004 tsunami, they wanted to find out about the condition of the aboriginal inhabitants. Having had very little contact with the outside world, the islanders started shooting arrows at the helicopters, thinking they were birds. The universe is billions of years old, whereas the history of mankind on planet Earth goes back only a few ten thousands of years. In the whole wide field of spirituality, we relatively inexperienced human beings are no different from the aboriginal inhabitants of the Andaman Islands.
Humans in their present form can be traced back two hundred thousand years. Human civilization can be traced back ten thousand to fifteen thousand years. Our science and technology have made exponential progress during the last couple of centuries. This relatively newfound technology has drastically reduced communication time between the various continents. In the nineteenth century, it used to take months to travel from Europe to North America; today, it takes only a few hours and in the near future, perhaps only a few minutes. On the other hand, our technological advancements have also increased how we think of distance and time exponentially. Until recently, people used to consider units of time and distance in terms of hundreds of years and miles. Now, astronomers measure time in billions of years and distance in trillions of miles. Still, science has discovered the scientific laws of only 4 percent of the materials in the universe. The remaining 96 percent is politely labeled as "dark matter" and "dark energy," as no one has been able to "see" it yet.
From this scientific point of view, our modern knowledge about the universe is still scarce. What we do know is that the universe is ancient and that our knowledge about it is constantly changing. As recently as the seventeenth century, the great Italian scientist Galileo Galilei, who revolutionized astronomy by developing the telescope, was persecuted for claiming Earth revolves around the sun, which was contradictory to the Church's belief at the time. After the publication of his book Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems in 1632, he was tried by the Inquisition, found, "vehemently suspect of heresy," and forced to recant. He had to spend the rest of his life under house arrest.
The exponential growth in scientific knowledge is leading a large number of people to question their religious beliefs, or even reject them altogether. Some of those religious teachings are, at most, a little over two thousand years old; some are a thousand years older. There is no doubt the founders of these religions were significant personalities in their time. Nevertheless, like any solid scientific theory, a spiritual theory also needs to be free from the distorting influences of time and place.
I have had the opportunity to experience both Eastern and Western cultures. Prior to arriving in the United States in 1989, I spent my first thirty years in India. Apart from being in contact with two great spiritual personalities in India, I had the opportunity to read biographies of numerous spiritual persons and works on spirituality. In my view, great persons like Christ, Buddha, Moses, Prophet Muhammad, and Krishna knew something about the workings of the universe that were not common knowledge, and that's why we claim their actions to be out of the ordinary, or even part of religious dogma. The fact is we simply do not know how to explain the stories about them. Mental or spiritual science may someday show that none of our characterizations are correct and that these teachers were applying deep scientific principles in everyday life.
During the last ten thousand years, many saints in Asia have explored the human mind and its relationship with the Infinite. Most of them did it after first establishing the limitations of physical pleasure and intellectual knowledge. These saints got wonderful results. When Newton saw an apple fall from a tree, he came up with the famous Newton's Laws of Motion. Similarly, when saints started to explore the functioning of their minds and how everything around them was created, they developed a theory called Tantra. In this book, I try to explain scientifically certain facts of Tantric philosophy, such as the constituent parts of the mind, the effect of mantra on the mind, and how karma may be scientifically defined and explained. We shall also see how Tantra is free from the distorting influences of time and place.
ARRANGEMENT OF CHAPTERS
In chapter 2, "Happiness—A State of Mind," I discuss happiness as a state of mind. Worldly objects like wealth, sex, and power are sources of happiness, but they are not ultimate goals. Moreover, such worldly pleasures are not absolute but relative in nature.
In chapter 3, "Belief," I show how dogma is not a proper base for belief. Instead, we need to learn to keep our minds open.
In chapter 4, "Science, Spirituality, and Religion," I explore the fact that although science has progressed exponentially during the last two hundred to three hundred years, there are still perhaps thousands or even millions of scientific laws of Mother Nature (our universe) that remain undiscovered.
In chapter 5, "Brain and Science," I examine the parts and functions of the human brain and how they differ from those of developed animals. I also discuss some recent technological advances in the study of the brain and their practical uses.
In chapter 6, "Mind, Tantra, and Mantra," I go into Newton's experience of observing an apple falling from a tree, which produced his famous Laws of Motion. I show the similarity between this event and those experienced by the saints of Asia, who explored the human mind and its relationship with the Infinite about ten thousand years ago. Based on their own experiences, these saints established the limitations of physical pleasure and intellectual knowledge and came up with miraculous scientific results and the wonderful theory called Tantra. This chapter also contains an explanation of the three constituent parts of the human mind and how it differs from that of plants and animals. Chakras (or cakras) and their propensities will also be explained, as well as how the systematic chanting of a mantra affects the human mind, the significance of Aum, and the types of food one eats and their effects on the mind.
Chapter 7, "Karma and Potential Energy," explains how each and every second (in inhaling, exhaling, walking, talking, etc.) affect us and the possibility we inadvertently apply hundreds (maybe thousands of) subtle scientific laws of the universe every day. Five hundred years ago, nobody thought that chemical, electrical, or nuclear energy existed. Most likely, human beings will continue to conceptualize and discover myriad energies and their scientific laws. In order to explain physical phenomena, science came up with these energy terminologies. Similarly, I explain how "karma" is also an energy term, similar to "potential energy." I also explain how karma and the laws of the universe play a role in life after death.
Chapter TwoHAPPINESS—A STATE OF MIND
Much as we try to obtain happiness, we do not get the desired result every time. In most cases, the results are not according to our wishes, and this causes unhappiness or sorrow. It is said that even love causes unhappiness: either the wife or the husband has to die first, and this will cause unhappiness to the one who survives.
Two recognized schools of philosophy are idealism and materialism. Lord Krishna's doctrine of action is an example of the first: one should work according to capacity and should not worry about the results. In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna says, "Karmanye waadhikare astu ma phale su kadachana," or, "Surrender the fruits of actions unto Me." This is one extreme. Buddhism also represents this philosophy. Here, the ideal is detachment from worldly objects. The other extreme type of philosophy is the materialistic, or capitalist, attitude: that is, to indulge in worldly objects or pleasures.
Both positions are flawed. It is impossible to detach oneself completely from worldly objects. Unless one has some goal—that is, to achieve some desired pleasure—he or she cannot work with maximum effort. Hence, it is very difficult to follow the verse in the Gita. On the other hand, as already stated, results achieved are often not what one wants, and this causes pain or sorrow.
Pain, sorrow, and unhappiness are inevitable in the world, so how can they be minimized? Personally, I am completely against Buddhist philosophy, which is to detach oneself from all worldly objects in order to eliminate unhappiness. The follower of this principle will not enjoy any pleasure in life.
Longing after an object may also not bring happiness. In the movies, when the camera is focused on a single person's face, that person's face is very clear, while those of others are hazy. Similarly, if we focus our mind on a particular object, that object controls our passion, and other things become less important. I try to work with all my abilities to get the best results, but if I do not get the desired results, I focus my mind on some other object to minimize the unhappiness. Even so, I had to experience unhappiness first.
We may also try to rationalize our unhappiness by playing down the importance of our desired object. Suppose I am to take an exam. I study very hard. If I get the desired results, everything is okay. If the results are not according to my wishes, I may think, This is not going to be of any importance to me after twenty years, so why should I bother with this?
There are people who claim money is everything in life, and everything can be gotten with money. Yes, money is an important factor in life, but it is not everything. Everyone always has a list of worries. If an item is removed from this list, another takes its place. People who do not have enough money generally place money at the top of this, along with other worries. Wealthy people may have something else on the top of this list. Items that often occur in this list are money, illness (his own or his close relatives), job search, search for a better job (if you already have a job), and relationship issues (at home or at work). Michael Jackson was very famous and had a lot of money, but he could not sleep without the help of his doctor. Catherine Zeta-Jones, the actress, has biopolar II disorder. Rich and famous people are frequent visitors to rehab clinics. Obviously, financial wealth is not the answer to all of life's problems.
Happiness is a state of mind. Worldly objects like wealth, sex, and power are sources of happiness, but these are not ultimate goals. Such worldly pleasures are not absolute but relative in nature. A graduate student assistantship in the United States brings in about $13,000 per year. The assistant compares him- or herself with the professor, whose salary is around $60,000 per year, and thinks if only he or she had that much money, life would be very easy and full of happiness. But after a few years, when the student finishes his or her degree and earns $60,000 per year in some corporation, her or she starts comparing himself with someone whose salary is higher and feels bad once again.
Wealth, power, and so on are all relative in nature. There will always be others ahead in the queue. A better philosophy for happiness is: I will try my best to achieve a goal, but whether I achieve that goal or not, I will always think of life's long-term meaning in order to minimize losses or pain. I do not have control over the results of most of my actions, and hence, there is no point in thinking about the actions or the results as I cannot change the outcome.
One should never look back. One should look ahead, because we cannot change what has already happened. One should always try to see the bright side of everything. Start comparing yourself with those who are behind you in the queue. After all, it could be they are better off than you are.
In order to negotiate a curve, the outer wheel of a car has to travel more than the inner wheel; otherwise, the car will have an accident. Every car and truck has a differential, which makes sure the outer wheels do just that while negotiating a curve. This is how functional relationships work.
To begin with, I would like to ask readers a question (I hope Apollo astronauts are not among them): why, if you have not gone to the moon, do you believe men ever walked on it? Most probably, readers will answer that they learned about it through the media. In other words, the belief that moon landings actually took place is due to acceptance of what was seen on TV: the live transmissions of Apollo astronauts from the moon.
One could, of course, argue that the United States made an artificial surface to resemble that of the moon somewhere—say, in the Arizona desert—and televised a landing there to the world. To try to satisfy persons who argue along this line, you may show them moon rocks, which were brought back by the Apollo astronauts, and photographs and films of the landing. But the authenticity of all your evidence may still be questioned. In fact, whatever you show to aboriginals living in remote parts of Australia will not make them believe the landing ever took place.
Immediately after 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the Indian Air Force went to help people in some of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal. On some of those islands, there are tribes still living in the Stone Age and do not know about modern science. When they saw the helicopters sent to help them, they simply shot arrows at the helicopters.
The point I am making here concerns belief. We have belief in modern technology, and that's why we accept that the moon landing and other space flights actually took place.
Suppose you are walking with your friend, who tells you that a passerby is a Nobel Prize winner in physics and is very knowledgeable in the field. Would you believe it? If you have faith in your friend, you may. But if you do not have faith in your friend—or in anyone for that matter—how can you verify the passerby is as good in physics to warrant receiving a Nobel Prize? You will have to learn physics, and only then will you be able to plumb the depths of his or her knowledge. Without knowledge of physics, however, you have no right to doubt the person's expertise.
This is true in the case of spirituality, too. Most of us have no knowledge in this area. But because of the opinion we hold about ourselves, we may think we have general authority in numerous fields, including spirituality, without having any in-depth knowledge in those fields.
Spirituality and Miracles
Spirituality is often equated with miracles. The great saint Vivekananda opined, however, that people should not blindly believe stories about miracles. He said it is possible for everyone to experience them. We may call incidents miracles because modern science is only two hundred to three hundred years old and is not yet able to explain them. Of course, in order to experience miracles, an ordinary person shall have to meditate or follow the paths set by spiritual leaders.
One should not consider spirituality and religion to be the same. In my opinion, spirituality is much more scientific than is religion and 99 percent practical. Physics, chemistry, biology, and so on are, say, 50 percent practical and 50 percent theoretical. By doing mental exercises and using appropriate Sanskrit mantras, one can come to know much more about these so-called miracles. I also put forward that not all stories about miracles are accurate. Some are, of course, while some cause harm to spirituality.
No living body has seen God. The concept, or mere feeling of God, proposes there is always somebody watching me or is there to help me—especially in the time of need. Hence, the feeling or concept of God is much more powerful than what a toddler feels when near his or her mother. For this reason, a person who believes in God tends to be more psychologically strong and satisfied than a nonbeliever. On the other hand, problems arise if a group of people starts to claim their God is better than the God of others. Everyone thinks his or her parents are the best. But the moment one thinks his or her parents are the best and all others are bad, we have a problem.
Excerpted from Karma, Mind, and Quest for Happiness by Susmit Kumar Copyright © 2012 by Dr. Susmit Kumar. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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