With the background of engineering and a deep interest in Indian scriptures , I’ve been trying to make sense of the theories, models or realities proposed in our ancient texts through my exposure to modern technology and this blog series is all about it. It may sound strange at first so let me begin with the incident that prompted me to start this blog series.
” I was working at the computer , typing something while my elder son, 5 year old Chiku, came running by and paused his own play and started looking at my screen. He observed for a while and then he saw me typing and deleting some characters on the screen. He asked me ” What are you doing ? ” , I am working beta, i replied. Further I explained that with keyboard we type and its visible on screen and with backspace we can delete if we have written something we don’t want.
He noded gently and continued looking at the screen and then curiously asked with the deep interest that every child exhibits till we kill it by sending them to the schools – ” Accha , yeh batao – jab aap kuch likhte ho , fir use delete karte ho , to woh kaha jata hai ? ”
(translation : ” tell me when you type something and then you delete it, where does the deleted letters go ?”)
I , with my teacher tone, said ” they get deleted , they disappear …”
Unsatisfied , he asked again ” Yeah, yeah but where do they go ? Where do they disappear ? ”
The all knowing adult teacher in me was about to explain it further , luckily I took a pause and deeply looked at the question without trying to answer. I was for the first time , just wondering at the beauty of the question , the experience of being with a question – patiently. Few moments of silence and i said, ” I don’t know beta….I really don’t know..” , he looked at me and then the screen and then went back to his play.
As I sat with the quesion,few days later a different clarity dawned on me. I’ve been studying a lesser known text called ” Yog Vashishtha” where Shri Ram 14 year old, unenglightened , filled with remorse, questions and confusion is asking questions to Guru Vashishtha about life, about world, about everything. In a way this is similar to Bhagwat Geeta where Arjun is asking his questions to Shri Krishna. However, Yog Vashishtha is more than 16000 verses and has a more complex commentary which is why this is often not so commonly read. Even I wasn’t aware of it till a saint (Late Pandey Ji from Buddhashetra) from nearby village suggested me to read it.
One of the very strong idea proposed in Yog Vasishtha and in various other scriptures too is “this world is not” . While we may see it , we may feel it, we may consider it real – but this idea stresses on the reality that just like how you dream and the world of dream looks real yet it is not – similarly this world that you are walking in – is nothing but a dream, its not real. I had tough time digesting this idea/reality.
There is another hindu saint who is approachable , Shri Nityanand Ji Maharaj – so I sent him this query few months back – here is the snippet of my question and his response.
I sent this quote to Shri Nityanand ji and shared how i find this truth , difficult to digest. To which he responded –
Alright now let me come back to what chiku’s question made me realize or brought a certain clarity on this subject. So, when chiku asked me where did the characters go when deleted , I realised the very existence of those characters was illusionary. Isn’t it ? When those character were alive on screeen, they felt they are something ,even those who looked at them felt they exist. Infact in one way they did exist. The moment we press backspace, they get deleted – they disappear -where ? Well, technically they are erased out of the screen pixels , out of the computer memory etc. can be an explaination.
But fundamentally, we can say that those characters do not exist in the very first place. Their existence itself a sort of illusion. What exists perhaps in more concrete form is the keyboard, the operator, the screen and the software. The interplay of all these create something which is temporary by its very nature.
A file on computer exists in an illusionary realm from the perspective of more concrete components. A file talking to other file , will not see it. They both will say they are as real as life could be. When someone comes and tells them , listen folks – you are ilussionary , you frankly dont even exist ! – those files will have tough time getting it. I am one of those files, I guess.
Next article : A technical guide to Nirvana : Part #2 Who am I ?