The Universe As An Information System
Notes: I have translated the Bhagavadgita twice. The first one was a loose translation. The second one was a word to word translation with a detailed commentary. The commentary is however different from what you will find here. In this section I will share with you my thoughts about the knowledge, philosophy and wisdom of the Bhagavadgita as I understand it from my perspective. Jayaram V
Currently, a lot of research has been going on about consciousness. The conclusions make a fascinating study. If you are interested in understanding consciousness and how your brain works and how it manages to make sense of the world, you should study the latest scientific research on consciousness. Going by the pace at which we are making progress, it should not be a surprise if within a few decades someone manages to replicate human consciousness in a simulated environment to near perfection. No doubt, scientists will have a lot of problems and resistance from the orthodox sections of society, just as Darwin, Freud, and Einstein had, to establish that consciousness is a mere mechanical function of the brain, but eventually they have to come to terms with reality.
It is now clear to anyone who has a scientific bent of mind that the world in which we live is a vast data system. Scientists are fascinated by the amount of information that is encoded in every object of the universe. It is as if knowledge or information has crystallized into concrete objects that you can touch and feel. The objective universe is pure intelligence which manifests in various states or conditions. In its grossest form it is concretized into material objects filled with energy, mass, and momentum, and in its subtlest form it becomes consciousness and intelligence. It validates the belief that thoughts and ideas can manifest as reality, and all creation, as stated in the Vedas, begins as a thought or an idea. When our scriptures say, "God, who is hidden in every object of the universe, is Knowledge," it now makes perfect sense.
You may laugh at a person who worships a stone object, but you must remember that the object he worships unknowingly is also pure intelligence appearing to you as a solid object. It contains vast amount of information encoded in it. At the particle level, there is no difference between the object you see as a stone and your consciousness projected by your brain, except that they are in different states. Both are bound to the same universal laws, properties, and mathematical principles. And perhaps at some stage in our progress we manage to transform one into another. When our scriptures were narrating stories about seers who could turn a person into a stone and vice verse, they nearly stumbled upon the idea or the possibility, without knowing the scientific principle behind it.
Everything here is pure consciousness appearing as innumerable objects and in different states of density and materiality due to the permutation and combination of base elements and the laws of physics, chemistry and mathematics. From 20th century onwards, scientists began seeing the universe as space filled with billions of galaxies, stars, dust, planets, asteroids, etc., and bound to time and other dimensions. They realized that the space around you is not so empty as previously thought, but an object, and the objects you see are not so solid as we previously thought but mostly filled with space only. In other words, the distinction between space and the objects that appear in it is very thin.
Since the last few decades, scientists have also begun seeing the universe as giant information system, filled with numerous other information systems, from as small as a particle to as vast as a universe. In every object, whether it is organic or inorganic, is hidden vast amounts of data, arranged as universal laws, molecular structures, energy particles, chemical reactions, physical states, numbers, patterns, algorithms, processes and movements. It is as if God is playing with numbers or a game of dice, churning out universe after universe, and letting them decay in their own time.
It now appears to me that evolution is not confined to only living beings. The biological evolution is probably part of a much bigger evolution of consciousness itself from materiality. When consciousness evolves as an extension of the same physical phenomena, through a random, or intelligent process, and reaches a certain stage, as it happened in our case, it develops the ability to decode the information hidden in those objects and begins to make sense of it. We are currently in that process. In us matter has become conscious and intelligent. We are now using that ability to decode the universe. We are trying to find out how the mind and body function, how things are structured in the universe, and how we can harness that information to make our chances of survival even better. In other words we are the probes the universe has evolved to know itself and improve itself. We are products of the universe. We have evolved from matter, with enough intelligence to know who we are and what we can do. It is probably how matter evolves to become self aware. (Mind and intelligence (i.e. consciousness) evolving from matter is again stated in several Hindu schools of philosophy).
Science is able to explains all this, but it cannot tell you why it is happening, or why so much information is encoded in the universe, and for what purpose. Is it because the universe eventually wants to evolve into a conscious Being to hasten its own evolution? Is it the nature of matter to eventually become conscious? No scientist can answer these questions. It is where perhaps we have to turn to metaphysics, for metaphysics is also a product of our consciousness only where we use existing models of information to explore possibilities through speculation and imagination. For example, the Bhagavadgita says that the purpose and the reason for the existence of all this (sat) come from supreme consciousness, which is not bound to Nature and not dependent upon it. That consciousness belongs to the domain of Brahman, who is the Creator and the main impelling force behind Nature, whereby it awakens from an unmanifested , inert and undistinguished state (asambhuti) into an awakened state (sambhuti).
Our scriptures also affirm that since God consciousness or God Principle is not encoded in the objects of the universe (In the Bhagavadgita Krishna says, I am not in them), science cannot reach it and decode it. It can be proved only when someone manages to establish that consciousness can exist without objects (body, mind, etc.) and information can be encoded in forms that do not contain matter. It is probably another significant stage in the evolution of consciousness whereby consciousness is permanently freed from materiality. Until then we have to depend upon faith and wait for science to deconstruct and decode the objects of the universe
In conclusion, we may say that the universe is filled with a vast array of recursive patterns, or patterns within patterns. Every object is a product of repetitive patterns created by the configuration, permutation and combination of units of matter and energy, and governed by a set of verifiable and predictable laws, programs, algorithms, and processes, which make possible the objective reality in which we live. So is our consciousness. It has the ability to recognize, remember and reproduce those patterns hidden in the objects with great accuracy. We call that ability intelligence or consciousness, which gives us an enormous power to understand, control and create new realities and patterns, and perpahs someday new worlds and universes.
Suggestions for Further Reading
- The Wisdom of the Bhagavadgita, Main Page
- The Wisdom of the Upanishads, Main Page
- The Bhagavad-Gita Essays and Translations
- An Introduction To The Bhagavad-Gita And Its Three Secrets
- Why to Study the Bhagavadgita Parts 1 to 4
- The Abbreviated Bhagavadgita
- The Problem of Maya Or Illusion and How To Deal With It
- The Problem of Maya Or Illusion and How To Deal With It
- The Bhagavadgita, Philosophy and Concepts
- The Many Gods and Goddesses of Hinduism
- Divine Qualities Of A True Worshipper Of God
- The Bhagavadgita on Karma, the Law of Actions
- Maya, The Grand Illusion Or The Delusion Of The Mind
- Aspects, Emanations, Incarnations and Forms of God Vishnu
- Dvaita or Advaita What is the Truth?
- Symbolism in the Bhagavadgita
- The Truth About Karma
- Meaning and Definition of Bhagavan
- Brahman the Supreme Universal Lord of All
- What is Bhakti or Devotion?
- Bhakti Marg, the Path of Devotion
- History and information about Mathura and Vrindavan Temples
- True Devotion and Qualities of a True Devotee
- Essays On Sorrow And Its Spiritual Significance
- The Yoga of Knowledge or the Samkhya Yoga, Verses and Commnetary by Jayaram V