Tuesday, December 3, 2019

GREAT MINDS THAT EMBRACED VEDANTA AND THE UPANISHADS PART 1



Erwin Schroedinger (1887--1961) Austrian theoretical
physicist, was a professor at several universities in Europe. He was awarded the Nobel prize Quantum Mechanics, in 1933. During the Hitler era he was dismissed from his position for his opposition to the Nazi ideas and he fled to England. He was the author of Meine Weltansicht

Schrodinger wrote in his book Meine Weltansicht

“This life of yours which you are living is not merely apiece of this entire existence, but in a certain sense the whole; only this whole is not so constituted that it can be surveyed in one single glance. This, as we know, is what the Brahmins express in that sacred, mystic formula which is yet really so simple and so clear; tat tvam asi, this is you. Or, again, in such words as “I am in the east and the west, I am above and below, I am this entire world.”

Schrodinger’s influential What is life? the physical aspect of the living cell & Mind and matter (1944) also used Vedic ideas. The book became instantly famous although it was criticized by some of its emphasis on Indian ideas. Francis Clark, the co-discoverer of the DNA code, credited this book for key insights that led him to his revolutionary discovery.

According to his biographer Walter Moore, there is a clear continuity between Schrodinger’s understanding of Vedanta and his research:

“The unity and continuity of Vedanta are reflected in the unity and continuity of wave mechanics. In 1925, the world view of physics was a model of a great machine composed of separable interacting material particles. During the next few years, Schrodinger and Heisenberg and their followers created a universe based on super imposed inseparable waves of probability amplitudes. This new view would be entirely consistent with the Vedantic concept of All in One."

He became a Vedantist, a Hindu, as a result of his studies in search for truth. Schrodinger kept a copy of the Hindu scriptures at his bedside. He read books on Vedas, yoga and Sankhya philosophy and he reworked them into his own words, and ultimately came to believe them. The Upanishads and the Bhagavad gita, were his favorite scriptures.

According to his biographer Moore, “His system – or that of the Upanishads – is delightful and consistent: the self and the world are one and they are all. He rejected traditional western religious beliefs (Jewish, Christian, and Islamic) not on the basis of any reasoned argument, nor even with an expression of emotional antipathy, for he loved to use religious expressions and metaphors, but simply by saying that they are na├»ve.

(source: The Wishing Tree - By Subhash Kak p. 1 - 7).

In a famous essay on determinism and free will, he expressed very clearly the sense that consciousness is a unity, arguing that this "insight is not new...From the early great Upanishads the recognition Atman = Brahman (the personal self equals the omnipresent, all-comprehending eternal self) was in Indian thought considered, far from being blasphemous, to represent, the quintessence of deepest insight into the happenings of the world. The striving of all the scholars of Vedanta was, after having learnt to pronounce with their lips, really to assimilate in their minds this grandest of all thoughts."

Schrodinger wrote:

“Vedanta teaches that consciousness is singular, all happenings are played out in one universal consciousness and there is no multiplicity of selves.”

“the stages of human development are to strive for Possession (Artha), Knowledge (Dharma), Ability (Kama), Being (Moksha)”

“Nirvana is a state of pure blissful knowledge.. It has nothing to do with individual. The ego or its separation is an illusion. The goal of man is to preserve his Karma and to develop it further – when man dies his karma lives and creates for itself another carrier.”

(source: What is life? the physical aspect of the living cell & Mind and matter - By Erwin Schrodinger p. 87). Refer to What is Life? Published in 1944

He wished to see:

"Some blood transfusion from the East to the West" to save Western science from spiritual anemia."

Schroedinger explicitly affirmed his conviction that Vedantic jnana represented the only true view of reality- a view for which he was prepared even to offer Empirical proof.

(source: A Short Introduction to Hinduism - By Klaus K. Klostermaier p. 168).

"In all world," writes Schroedinger in his book My View of the World (chapter iv), "there is no kind of framework within which we can find consciousness in the plural; this is simply something we construct because of the temporal plurality of individuals, but it is a false construction....The only solution to this conflict insofar as any is available to us at all lies in the ancient wisdom of the Upanishad."

(source: My View of the World - By Erwin Schroedinger chapter iv).
Regarding mystical insights, Schrodinger tells us: "The multiplicity is only apparent. This is the doctrine of the Upanishads. And not of the Upanishads only. The mystical experience of the union with God regularly leads to this view, unless strong prejudices stand in the West."

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