The Cosmic Dance: A mass-energy interpretation of Karma -1
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The Cosmic Dance: A mass-energy interpretation of Karma -1

December 24, 2023

Modern science is a continuous endeavour to understand the structure of the universe — including forms of natural life — and how it works. To aver that karma is a Law, like the Law of Gravity, is to try to interpret a philosophical concept with the experimental tools of modern science.

Hindus believe that karma is a force generated by an individual’s actions having consequences. Karma may be also viewed as an experiential model, which explains the imponderables of birth, the joys and travails of life and the circumstances of death, which we observe and experience, in relation to actions, events and happenings around us, whether or not we are personally  involved in them.

Karma cannot be verified or replicated by a laboratory experiment. Karma cannot be proved to be a “scientific” concept within our present scientific understanding of space-time. However, the model of karma including its re-birth hypothesis, arguably remains as valid as the Astrophysicist’s model of the Big-bang,” says Maj. Gen. S.G. Vombatkere (retd.) in this three-part article titled ‘The Cosmic Dance: A mass-energy interpretation of Karma.’—Ed

By S.G. Vombatkere

Our space-time universe

We are among the observers of a grand display of the movements and interactions of mass and energy in the  space-time universe in which we live. We are also among the participants in the temporal flows and exchanges of energy and mass, both inside and outside our biological bodies and within the physical, social, cultural and political spaces, which we have created.

Living (or sentient) beings are in a space-time environment, which also contains objects and materials that may be chemically active although apparently physically “inert.” We                                                              might consider two basic categories of matter in the space-time sense, namely, biological entities and non-biological entities. Entities of both categories possess physical attributes of weight, size, shape, colour, texture, etc., which are apparent to human senses.

The concept of the consciousness of human beings and non-human biological entities and the perception and understanding of “reality,” lie in the fields of metaphysics and philosophy. Not inconsequentially, Physics Nobel Laureate Max Planck (1858-1947) held: “I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.”

The Physics Nobel Laureate, Erwin Schrodinger (1887-1961), also said: “Consciousness cannot be accounted for in physical terms, for consciousness is absolutely fundamental. It cannot be accounted for in terms of anything else. Quantum Physics reveals a basic oneness of the universe. Multiplicity is only apparent; in truth; there is only one mind.”

Finally, although not a Physicist, Joseph Selbie, writes: “Over the span of the 20th and now the 21st Centuries, branches of Physics have produced an astonishingly vast and predominately non-material view of the cosmos, a cosmos of which our enormous physical universe is only a tiny part. Current theories in Physics, quantum theory and especially string theory relegate our physical universe … as essentially organised energy held in stable patterns.”

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Biological structures as the “dance” of mass and energy

Life on Earth began over three billion years ago, as molecules capable of self-replication. These microscopic organisms were formed, perhaps with a chance input of energy from lightning, acting on a particular set of molecules of matter, in the “chemical soup” of primordial oceans. They were the first biological structures which, over aeons, evolved into complex forms of life. All material objects, living or non-living (inanimate), starting from their creation to disintegration and re-creation to another form, are the result of actions and interactions of multiple, complex streams of mass and energy. This is from the beginning of Time and continues into the future.

Every material entity anywhere in the physical space-time universe — but more specifically on Earth, and in the present discussion, every form of life — is the result of a “dance” of continuously interacting mass and energy, changing, exchanging and interchanging, in continually converging and diverging flows or streams. [Ref. 1]

The cosmic dance: Hinduism and modern science

In Hinduism, the cause of all forms of energy and their movements in nature and the cosmos is the impersonal, unmanifest, supreme cosmic spirit, named as Brahman, which manifests in our space-time material universe as Ishwara. [Ref. 2]. All mass-energy streams considered together from the beginning of Time, is the on-going eternal dance of the space-time universe. Ishwara as Nataraja, is the cosmic dancer, epitomising primal universal energy. Nataraja represents ever-moving energy and mass, with their inter-weavings, changes, exchanges and interchanges in the cosmos.

Nataraja’s dance of eternal bliss (ananda tandava) represents five activities (Panchakritya), namely, Shrishti (creation, evolution), Sthiti (preservation, support), Samhara (destruction, evolution), Tirobhava (veiling, embodiment, illusion, giving rest), and Anugraha (release, salvation, grace). [Ref. 3]. These five, all connected with primal energy, are the unending activities of the deities Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra, Maheshvara and Sadashiva, respectively. The circle of fire within which Nataraja dances symbolises the energetic cosmos, his hair flying as he dances symbolises unending motion, the damaroo or drum is Shrishti, the abhayamudra or “fear-not” hand gesture is Sthiti, the fire is Samhara, the right foot planted on the ground is Tirobhava and the left foot held aloft is Anugraha.

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In 2004, a two-metre high statue of Nataraja was unveiled at CERN, the European Centre for Research in Particle Physics in Geneva, Switzerland. A plaque next to the statue explains the significance of the metaphor of the cosmic dance with quotations from Fritjof Capra: “Hundreds of years ago, Indian artists created visual images of dancing Shivas in a beautiful series of bronzes. In our time, Physicists have used the most advanced technology to portray the patterns of the cosmic dance. The metaphor of the cosmic dance thus unifies ancient mythology, religious art and modern Physics.” [Ref. 4]

Fritjof Capra also writes: “[E]very subatomic particle not only performs an energy dance but also is an energy dance; a pulsating process of creation and destruction … without end … For the modern Physicists then, Shiva’s dance is the dance of subatomic matter … it is a continual dance of creation and destruction involving the whole cosmos; the basis of all existence and of all natural phenomena.” [Ref. 5]

Ancestry and life processes

Biological cells contain protein molecules and DNA molecules, which carry genetic information. DNA is an ordered molecular structure of nucleotide bases — adenine (A), cytosine (C), guanine (G) and thymine (T) — which are smaller molecules of ordered matter, strung on molecular phosphate and sugar strands. A DNA molecule is a data set, carrying information necessary to synthesise proteins, which form biological structures. The sequence in which nucleotide molecules are arranged in the DNA molecule, contains the information which directs cell division and multiplication, to build and maintain biological structures from single-celled organisms to complex organisms consisting of trillions of cells with differentiated functions.

DNA molecules were created at some point in space, by an interaction of mass and energy at some point in time. The content of a DNA molecule is due to its ancestor flows of mass and energy. In like manner, humans and other living organisms also have ancestry, not merely in the DNA sense, but also in the sense of predecessor space-time flows and interactions of mass and energy.

Thus, every physical structure — biological and non-biological — represents an ordered set of information concerning the flows, the interactions between flows and the space-time resultant, of flows of mass and energy. The resultant structure, which we sense with our cognitive abilities — including by using scientific instruments, which themselves have their own space-time origins — possesses defining qualities such as mass, volume, shape, colour, texture, etc., by which we are able to distinguish one entity from another and give them names in language.

[To be continued]

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