What Travels Faster than Light?

Can anything travel faster than light? According to Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, this is just impossible. You will require infinite energy to push anything to achieve the speed of light. At the Large Hadron Collider in CERN, Switzerland, they have achieved speeds of 99.99% of light, but achieving 100% is just impossible. Then you look around and you see photons zipping around the universe at the speed of light. Photons are small packets of energy which make up light and the complete spectrum of electromagnetic waves. These small energy particles zip around the universe at the speed of 186,000 miles per second.  

We may sometimes wonder that if it is impossible to achieve the speed of light, how come all these zillions of photons are traveling around the universe at the speed of light? What is happening? This is where a massive illusion is taking place. Nature is playing a neat trick on all of us. We perceive the photons zipping around at the speed of light, but, “according” to the photons, they DO NOT TRAVEL. These photons with infinite energy operate outside space and time. The illusion gives an impression that the photons travel at the speed of light, but actually they reside outside space and time. Just like a mirage on a hot day is an illusion, in the same way the universe we see around us is an illusion. Vedanta teaches us that the universe is mithya (not real). In this illusionary universe, photons travel at the speed of light. A concept not easy to grasp, but it is the only truth.

If the photons do not travel, how does one then perceive the universe? We perceive the universe because of Awareness. Awareness is the substratum of everything in the universe. Look outside your window and you will become aware of the trees and buildings out there. Now look at the plane flying in the sky; you are aware of the plane flying. Now shift your view and look at the stars in the sky. You instantly become aware of the stars. Now move your body 180 degrees, and you will become aware of a new set of stars. Move your eyes around; you will see different objects and stars. You will notice that, in each case, you are instantaneously aware of the different views of the objects and stars. Irrespective of the distance, far or near, there is never a delay in becoming aware of the different objects. Distance is immaterial. The stars may be billions of light-years away, and still there is never any delay in your awareness of the stars. This is a point worth contemplating. A proper understanding of the functioning of Awareness is critical. Awareness is the core matter discussed in my book, Science Meets Vedanta.

In reality, the photons do not travel, and Awareness is the cause of perception. This Awareness is instantaneous. This Awareness travels much faster than light. How much faster? The star or any object can be any distance away, millions or billions of miles away, but the Awareness is instantaneous. Since it is instantaneous, it is impossible to measure the speed of Awareness. There is zero delay in being Aware of any perception—far or near. Since there is zero delay, it is logical to conclude that the speed of Awareness must be infinite. So, the speed of Awareness is infinite while the speed of light is limited to 186,000 miles per second.    

That photons do not travel and Awareness is the source of perception must be a new concept or idea to most people. Let us discuss these two topics in a little detail.   

Limitation of Photons in the Perception Process

Science has taught us that light (photons) is reflected from any object in this universe that we observe, and it travels to the retina in our eye. The retina converts the incoming light into an optical signal. This optical signal is transmitted to the visual cortex in the human brain. This is the end of the journey of the perception process. There is no explanation of what happens to the optical signal and how the brain decodes the optical signal and reconstructs our visual world. It does seem that this reflected light is our only connection to the outside world. We are aware of all the objects, both far and near, only because of this reflected light. Is it asking too much of the reflected light? Yes, we are asking too much of the reflected light. There are many limitations to this understanding. We shall discuss some of the key shortcomings as follows:

1. If you look at a faraway star, the light traveling from there can take a long time to reach us. For Star A, which is 10 light-years away, the photon would have had to start traveling 10 light-years earlier so that it could hit the retina in our eye “right now” to make Star A visible. Now we turn around and try and see Star B, which is five billion light-years away. That tiny photon would have needed to start its journey five billion years earlier, when there was no sun, no planet Earth. Our Earth is 4.5 billion years old. It seems strange that the photon started its journey even before the existence of Earth. Nevertheless, it started its journey that long ago so that it would be available to our eyes now. This is a long, lonely journey for the photon passing through space containing dark matter, galaxies, and planets. Through all this traveling, the photon must keep its purity of wavelength and energy level. Now imagine millions of people spread over many different galaxies looking at the same stars at the same time. Photons from Star A and Star B must also travel from the past to the present to reach these millions of viewers. It seems that photons from anywhere in the universe are available to viewers everywhere on demand, and that too instantaneously. This makes you wonder—how can this happen and is there a limit to the number of photons the reflected light can generate from the object that travels to all corners of such a huge universe?

2. We know that light is made up of different colors and that each of the colors has a different wavelength. When light passes through a prism (basically from one medium to another), the wavelengths for each color refract differently, and we see the rainbow effect on the other side of the prism. Light refracts and scatters in different directions. Can this happen to photons which are traveling from so far away? If all this is really happening, what is the accuracy of the photons reaching the human eye? Are they really representing the objects accurately? It is taken for granted that the photons reaching us from distant objects are an accurate representation.

3. Another question: it is a proven fact that vacuum energy is present everywhere in space. It is the energy just below the surface of space. Physics tells us that photons interact with this vacuum energy to become other particles and that they could combine once again to become photons. This dance of destruction and re-creation goes on continuously. In view of this, there is no way to know if the original photon has traveled to reach the human eye.

4. As of now, there is no indication that the photon has some sort of memory of its origin. There are millions of photons hitting the retina, but there is no way to know which photon comes from which object and how much distance it has traveled. If this critical information is lacking, it is impossible for the eye to reproduce the image we are trying to perceive.

You could say that this is perhaps unknown to science, and that the photon does have memory of the distance it has traveled. If so, how does it transfer this distance data to the retina? The retina, in turn, must add the data regarding distance to the optical signal being sent to the brain. Only in this way can the brain reconstruct the visual image accurately.

All of the above arguments show that it is just not clear how we really perceive objects in the universe. What science tells us so far is full of problems and shortcomings.

Photons Do Not Travel: How do we understand this? To understand this topic, we need to correctly interpret Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. Let us do that. One of the main conclusions of this theory is as follows:

Motion and time are interconnected. Wherever there is motion, time does slow down. This is a proven fact. The faster the motion, the slower time will tick. If you achieve the speed of light, time comes to a standstill. In a way, there is no time at the speed of light. How should we interpret this? So, what does travel at the speed of light? Only photons (light particles) travel at the speed of light. There is nothing else in the universe which can achieve this speed. As people, we see photons traveling at the speed of light. There is no denying this fact. We need to understand what is happening from the point of view of the photon. This is important. As a thought experiment, let us put a camera on a photon. What will the photon see? Since the photon is traveling at the speed of light, it will see no time, no space, and it will feel that it has infinite energy. This is a fact because we just indicated that anything traveling at the speed of light will have these properties: no time, no space, and has infinite energy.

How do we understand no time and no space? This really means that the photon remains stationary—it does not move since there is no space or time. Time and space are required for any movement. You think the photons move around at the speed of light, but “according” to the photons, they do not move; they are stationary.

If time does not exist for the photon, it must be outside space and time and it must be beyond the spacetime framework. Where is beyond spacetime? Science has no answer to this question. According to Vedanta, Brahman or Self-Awareness is beyond time and the spacetime framework. This Brahman is our innermost core. Our innermost core is outside space and time. See the illusion taking place—we see the photon traveling at the speed of light, but the photon really does not move; it is always present within our innermost core, and it has infinite energy.

This is an amazing conclusion and must be properly understood. This does indicate that the perception process taught by science has many shortcomings. So, what is the correct perception process?

Projection of the Universe Using “Awareness”

Yes, the mind is a projector. One of the key functions of the mind is to project the world “out there.” It uses Awareness to project the universe “out there.” This does seem drastic and counter intuitive. To justify this, in my essay “Projection—The Only Truth” I have given the following five different explanations, which support the fact that we indeed project the external world with all its components.

  1. By using Science
  2. By using Logic
  3. By using Math
  4. By using Quantum Physics
  5. By using Neuroscience

All these explanations are based on science and logic. You must read this essay to be fully convinced.

The mind as a projector is like the working of a digital projector that projects a movie on the screen. A digital projector has two major components—one is the light bulb, and the other is the content which must be projected. The mind also does have two very similar components:

  • Bulb of Awareness
  • Content Which Must Be Projected

Bulb of Awareness: Awareness is the innermost core of any living being. It is like a bulb shining Awareness. If any object—it could be an image, sound, touch, or feeling—comes in the presence of this bulb of Awareness, you will be aware of that experience. Here are some examples of awareness that we experience daily.

  • How do we know the tree is green? Because we are aware of it. 
  • How do we know sugar is sweet? Because we are aware of it. 
  • How do we know we have two legs and two hands? Because we are aware of them. 
  • How do we know the weight of the chair is 20 lb.? Because we are aware of it. 
  • How do we know the smooth touch of silk? Because we are aware of it. 
  • How do we know we are listening to music? Because we are aware of it. 

The common thread in all these questions is Awareness. It would seem that Awareness is a prerequisite to observe any object. Awareness has the power to make us aware of everything around us. Without Awareness, we would not know any objects which are perceived by the five sense organs—eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and skin. These objects perceived by the sensory organs must encounter Awareness; only then can we observe the object. Awareness is the most powerful and critical force in the universe. In my book, Science Meets Vedanta, we have discussed many different aspects of Awareness. To quickly summarize, Awareness is made of the following three components and three powers of Awareness:

  • Awareness = Subject + Object + Intelligence
  • Power of Awareness = Power of Knower + Power of Knowing + Power of Known

Our inner core is full, complete, and stands alone. This Self-Shining Awareness is the bulb of Awareness, and it is our inner core. It is not dependent on anything else, and it generates its own light of Awareness.

Content Which Must Be Projected: We have just seen that the bulb of Awareness is the power source of the projection of content. What about the content which must be projected? Vedanta teaches us that there are individual minds, and the total of individual minds can be called the cosmic mind. The cosmic mind is the source of the content. A good way to understand this is to compare this with Google Maps. I think all of us use Google Maps. Somewhere in the cloud, there is a complete software or code for Google Maps. This software shows the roads of almost every city and country in the world. If I am at a certain location and you are at another location, Google Maps will show the map for just those locations.

The cosmic map is like Google Maps but more extensive, complex, smarter, and dynamic. The cosmic map covers the entire universe. It is extremely detailed and covers every inch of the universe. No place is left out. It cannot be more complete. Every tree, every mountain, every planet, and every galaxy is covered by the cosmic map. Also, every living being is part of this cosmic map. The cosmic mind stores the complete map of the universe. The individual mind contains a subset of the map. This would depend upon the individual person’s location. The content within the individual mind is used for projection. How does the projection take place? In my book, Science Meets Vedanta, we have devoted a complete chapter to this subject. A step-by-step analysis of the projection process is explained.

The digital projector projects light onto a screen. What you see on the screen is nothing but different shades, colors, and intensity of light. All the objects you see on the screen are made up of only light. Nothing else. In the same way, the mind projector projects only Awareness. Everything you see “out there” is made up of only Awareness. Sight, sound, taste, smell, and touch are made up of only Awareness. The projection of content with Awareness is instantaneous. There is never any delay. The objects could be close by or a billion years away, the Awareness of these objects is immediate.

As a conclusion, we can say that the only thing faster than the speed of light is the speed of Awareness by which the universe is projected by the mind projector.

9 thoughts on “What Travels Faster than Light?”

  1. This question is not on Awareness.Question is Who creates seed body.Your articles have given clarity on 3 bodies.Seed body ,can it create itself?Kindly respond.I visited Pune recently but could not find time to meet you .My contact no.is 949642218.If you share your no.I love to interact.Let me know.Regards.

    1. The seed body is created by ignorance. This seed body, which is also our soul contains our ego. Where does the ego come from? The SELF from SatChitAnanda is reflected in the seed body to become the ego. The ego thinks it is the SELF and functions in the physical world through the seed body

  2. Very thought provoking… A person sitting in Pooja is aware of the fact that he is doing Pooja, still mind wandering about his or her work or some other activity… So is awareness has levels…

    1. There is no levels of Awareness. There is only One Awareness within our mind. The objects in the mind are different, therefore we have different experiences and thoughts. Objects from the five senses or our memory come in contact with Awareness in our mind, we then have an experience. It must be understood that we have only experience at time. Experiences or thought can change rapidly, but only one thought at a time.

  3. Very inspiring explanation.Awareness exceeds all speed limits.
    Science can not explain.The vedanta explanation is a combination of many aspects.
    In yaksha prashna there is a question put to dharmaraj what travels faster than light.Then his reply was “thought”.So does.Even we sit idle our thoughts go around ,scaning our awareness which has no boundaries.
    God has given each living creature immense potential to perceive and evaluate faster and beyond calculation.
    The pigeon perching far away can see the morsel
    in no time.
    I enjoyed reading this article and is very thought provoking.

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