Really! Yes, really, “life is a living wave” is the only truth. It sounds completely bizarre and even more difficult to comprehend. We are used to the physical world. We see all the activity taking place in the physical world; we daily live and interact in the physical world. We get up in the morning, go to work, return home, spend time with the family, and then go sleep. All this happens in the physical world, so where and how does the “living wave” come into the picture?
Do we really live in the physical world? To answer this question truthfully, I have a challenge—show me a “real,” “live” or “now” object in this world. Everything you see or interact with in this world is just a “memory” object. It is a dated object. There are no “now” or real objects in the physical world. The sun you see is not real, it is a “now minus eight minutes” version of the sun. Why? We know it takes light eight minutes to reach us from the sun, so the sun we see in the sky is a “now minus eight minutes” sun. It is not a “now” version of the sun.
The sun we see is not a “live,” “real” or “now” sun, it is basically a memory object which is a “now minus eight minutes” version. In the same way, the moon we see at night is a “now minus three seconds” version of the moon, because the light takes three seconds to reach us from the moon. The plane in the sky is a “now minus 300 milliseconds” version, the tree outside my window is a “now minus 10 microseconds” version. This logic applies to every object in the physical world. It is just impossible for anyone to show or interact with a “live” or “now” object in this physical world. This not only applies to objects but also to people, animals, and any living being. Anything and everything in this physical universe is made up of only memory objects.
You can compare the physical world to the playback from a digital video recording (DVR). The DVR contains recorded events, and it is made up of only memory objects. When you are watching the DVR, you are never watching a “live” event, you are always watching the recording of a live event. So, it is correct to say that a DVR is made up of only memory objects; you will never find a “real” or “live” object by looking at a DVR recording. Like a DVR, the physical world is also made of only memory objects. It is never real; it is made of only dated objects.
If there is a recorded event in the DVR, there must have been a live event before. The live event is recorded in the DVR, and then the recorded event is played back as and when required. The same logic and reasoning apply to the physical world. We know the physical world is made of only memory objects or recorded objects. Like in the DVR case, there must be a “now” or “live” object/event for everything in the universe. The sun we see is a “now minus eight minutes” version of the sun, so where is the actual sun? Where is the “now” sun? It must be somewhere. In the same way, the moon we see is a “now minus three seconds” version; the actual or “now” moon must be available somewhere. This logic applies to all objects (living and nonliving). All these “now” objects in the world must exist somewhere— but where?
From the DVR example, it would seem that there are two types of events—the live event and the recorded event. They are both separate and distinct. If the live event is happening now, the recorded event is viewed later. In the same way, this world is also made of two types of objects—memory objects and “now” objects. They too are separate and distinct. The physical world around us is made of only memory objects. In the same vein, the “now” universe must be made of only “now” objects. A universe with the existence of memory objects alone is impossible.
Unfortunately, we know virtually nothing about the “now” objects and the “now” universe, and science has made little attempt to investigate this area. The focus of this article is to explore the “now” objects or the “now” universe. We will use both science and Vedanta to support our explanation. To get a better understanding, we will try to answer the following questions:
- Where does the “now” universe reside?
- Of what is the “now” universe made?
- How does the “now” universe function?
1. Where Does the “Now” Universe Reside?
The first question to ask is: what is “now”? “Now” is something which is not the past or the future. It is not t=0+ or t=0–, it is t=0. It is the current moment. It is the present. It is now.
“Now” is time-based. It comes and goes rapidly, so it is not easy to grasp. But, then again, as one “now” goes away, another “now” moment takes its place. There is always a “now” moment. There is never an instant when there is no “now” moment. Do all the “now” moments need to be the same? The single-word answer is—No. They are never the same. The tree from this “now” moment to the next “now” moment is not the same, because it has grown older by the small time-fraction.
You can never compare two “now” moments. The preceding or coming “now” moment is either the past or the future; you can have only one “now” moment at any given time.
So where does the “now” moment reside? It is not incorrect to say that t=0 is the “now” moment. The start of the time meter is always at t=0, and this is the “now” moment. If time flows, as it always does, then t=0 becomes t=0+ and it is no longer the “now” moment. However, a new t=0 takes hold and it replaces the old one. In this way, the “now” moment is always present. It is never not-present. This “now” moment is t=0.
Okay, the “now” moment or t=0 is always present, but where is its location? One thing is clear: it cannot be present in space, because everything “out there” is only a memory object. If it is not “out there,” where else can it possibly be located? A clue: it must be outside space and time. Where is this outside? The surprising answer is that the “now” moment or t=0 is located within you. Vedanta has always taught this. To get a better understanding of this idea, let us investigate the “now” moment.
To locate “now” or t=0, let us study the objects out there. If we can see a faraway star, say, five million light-years away, it takes light from that star five million years to reach us. Now, we see the sun; the light from the sun takes eight minutes to reach us. We look at the moon; light takes three seconds to reach us. We look at the plane flying in the sky at 30,000 feet; light takes about 300 milliseconds to reach us. As the distance of the object being viewed is reduced, the time taken for light to reach us is much less.
Look at the tree outside the window; the time taken for light to reach us is 10 microseconds (10-6). Looking at the computer screen one foot away while reading this essay, light takes about one nanosecond (10-9) to reach you. As the distance reduces, the time taken for light to reach us reduces. If you extrapolate this backward, the only logical location for t=0 is within you. It cannot be anywhere else. This location is beyond and outside of space and time.
From the above discussion, it seems that the “now” location is within us. This location has all the “now” objects and the “now” universe. The “now” universe operates at this location. This “now” universe is beyond and outside of space and time. So, the question is, what is there which is beyond space and time? What is this location? Science does not have an answer. Vedanta does. Vedanta teaches us that Mind and Awareness are beyond space and time. Mind and Awareness is the t=0 location. Therefore, the “now” universe resides within the Mind and Awareness.
2. Of What Is the “Now” Universe Made?
We now understand that the “now” universe with all the “now” objects resides within the Mind and Awareness. The next question is: of what are the “now” objects made? What is the composition of the “now” universe? Surprisingly, you will get a clue to the answers from quantum physics.
The birth of quantum physics took place in the beginning of the 20th century, when scientists found that light showed both wave-like and particle-like properties. Sometimes light is a particle and sometimes a wave. This idea was cemented when Louis de Broglie, a French doctoral student, made a bold assertion that not only light but all matter must have both wave and particle properties. Here, matter means matter, including you, me, planets, cars—in fact, any living or nonliving object in this universe. In 1927, the de Broglie hypothesis was proven experimentally; thus, all matter is both a wave and a particle. In 1929, de Broglie was awarded the Nobel Prize for his theory. He is the only person to ever receive a Nobel Prize based on a doctoral thesis. If you are interested, you can read the essay “Quantum Physics—Overview” for more details.
Okay, that every object has a particle and wave duality is a fact. Is there a connection between the particle/wave duality and the memory/“now” object duality? Yes, there is. We have seen earlier that the physical world is made of only memory objects. These memory objects are the particle aspect of the duality. You will never see a wave in the physical world. In the physical world you will see only gross objects, which are the particle aspect of objects. So, we can agree that the particle aspect of the duality makes the memory object.
What about the “now” object? The “now” object can never be physical. It is outside the physical world. It is at t=0. The “now” universe cannot contain the particle aspect. So, what does the “now” object contain? Since the particle aspect is not possible, the only right answer is that the “now” object is made of the wave aspect of the duality. So, the correct conclusion is that “now” objects in the “now” universe are made of waves. Since the “now” universe functions in the mind, therefore these vibrating waves must reside within the mind. These waves are beyond and outside of space and time.
Quantum physics does show that the “now” universe is made of waves. Unfortunately, quantum physics does not give any details about these waves. What is the composition of these waves? Of what are the waves made? Luckily, Vedanta comes to the rescue and provides great insight into the wave aspect of matter.
Vedanta teaches us that all the objects in the mind take the form of waveforms or vrittis. Vrittis are vibrations in the mind caused by objects. These waveforms are made of “mind stuff.” What is mind stuff? It literally means stuff that is made of mind. As explained in the essay “Understanding the Mind,” these object waveforms or vrittis are sentient and made of intelligence. Knowledge is the substratum of the vrittis. Not easy to grasp, but these object vrittis are made of knowledge. Since they are made of knowledge, the vrittis know what object they represent. Every vritti is unique in representing a different object.
These object vrittis are complicated. Let us try and understand them. At any given moment, there is an object waveform. As time changes, the object waveform will also change. A new waveform is created with every passing moment. No object waveform is lost. All the past waveforms are still present within the object vrittis. All the past waveforms, right from the birth of the object to this current moment, combine to create a single cumulative waveform for the object. The object waveform or vritti is the total of all the waveforms for the object, right from its inception to the present time.
How do we understand this? Let us study an example—the sun is over 4.5 billion years old. The cumulative vritti of the sun will include all the waveforms for every moment in time. Every moment is part of the waveform for the sun. All these individual vrittis combine to create a “grand” waveform for the sun. As time passes, new waveforms are added to the cumulative profile of the sun. In the sun’s cumulative vritti, the profile for each moment of the sun since inception is available. If you are on Earth, you will see the “now minus eight minutes” version of the sun. This version is present within the cumulative vritti of the sun. From Mars, you will see the “now minus 13 minutes” version of the sun. All the versions of the sun are present, and different versions are chosen depending on the distance from the sun.
We have just seen the example of the sun with all the historical waveforms or vrittis. This will apply to all the objects in the universe. Every object in the universe is a cumulative waveform of every moment in time. Your waveform will be a total of all the vrittis since your birth. The trees, cars, planets, galaxies—each one of them will have a time-wise total waveform.
To add to the complexity of the waveforms, all objects in the universe with their own cumulative waveforms will combine to create one big waveform for the universe. We can call this the “now” universe waveform. This “now” universe waveform includes everything which is contained in the universe. Nothing is left out.
A question can be asked: how does the gigantic “now” universe waveform keep track of the individual objects within the waveform? As mentioned earlier, each object waveform or vritti is made of Knowledge. Each subsection of the waveform has intelligence and knows what object it represents. Even if all the object wave functions combine to form a single “now” universe vritti, knowledge of each object is maintained.
Before we move forward, let us summarize what we know about the “now” universe.
- We know the “now” universe is made of vrittis or mental waveforms, and they reside within the mind.
- Every living and nonliving object has their own wave function. When waves are superimposed on each other, they form complex waveforms. The final “now” universe waveform contains the waveforms of everything in the universe. Nothing is left out.
- We know the “now” universe resides within the Mind. Awareness is the source of the mind. The “now” universe vrittis get their intelligence from Awareness. Therefore, the “now” universe is always conscious, sentient, and alive.
- We know there is a cosmic mind and an individual mind. The cosmic mind is the total of all the individual minds. The “now” universe operates in the cosmic mind; a small part of the “now” universe operates in the individual mind. What part would depend on what we are currently observing. Each one is observing a different part.
3. How Does the “Now” Universe Function?
So, how does the “now” universe function? We know there is a cosmic mind and an individual mind. The cosmic mind is the total of all the individual minds. The “now” universe operates in the cosmic mind; a small part, or the subsection of the “now” universe, operates in the individual mind.
All action happens only in the mind. This seems contradictory. It does appear that we perform actions in the physical world. However, the correct interpretation is that everything happens first in the subtle world or in the “now” universe. These “now” objects are then manifested as memory objects in the physical world. Any action seen in the physical world has already been completed in the world of vrittis. The subtle world with vrittis comes first and then the physical world. Even quantum physics supports this concept. Quantum physics teaches that any wave collapses in the presence of an observer to become a particle. This means that the particle comes only after a wave has collapsed. If there is no observer, there will be no collapsing of the wave and there will be no particle, and the wave will continue to be a wave. This shows that the “now” objects made of vrittis come first, and then these “now” objects become memory objects in the physical world.
We have seen earlier that the vrittis are made of knowledge, they are made of intelligence. What does this mean? It means that there is a software code within these vrittis which provides intelligence to any vritti. Artificial Intelligence (AI), the trending technology, is a good comparison to understand this process. You can teach a robot to undertake a variety of actions. All this is possible because of the sophisticated software code written for the robot. The learning process happens in the software code. Once the process is learned in the software code, only then can the robot physically undertake the required action. The vritti has a similar type of software code which provides intelligence to the vritti. This software code is the backbone of the intelligence.
Each object vritti has a different role to play. It has different characteristics; it is made differently. The software code will reflect all these aspects for the object vritti. Every object vritti has its own software code. We already know how complex the universe is. We can only imagine the complexity of the software code that is required to cover everything in the universe.
To explain this, let us take an interaction between the ego and an object vritti. Let us take an example of cutting the branch of a tree with an axe. You see this action in the physical world. But we know that everything happens first in the “now” universe—the world of vrittis. How does this work? There is an axe vritti. By itself, the axe vritti cannot do anything. The ego with your body vritti combines with the axe vritti. Now the axe vritti is ready for action. The axe vritti has the software code for all the functions and features of the axe. One of the features is to cut and break objects apart. This feature is part of the software code for the axe vritti. The (body + axe) vritti interacts with the tree vritti. In this interaction, the (body + axe) vritti modifies the tree vritti. It modifies the software code of the tree vritti. In this process of modification, the tree vritti is without that branch. In the “now” universe, there is no actual cutting of the branch, but the modification of the software code reflects the change.
When this process is being projected, it will show the memory object of an axe. It will show the memory object of the person cutting the branch from the tree, which is also a memory object. This type of process is applicable to all the interactions among objects in the universe.
It seems clear that there is a fully functioning subtle world made of complex waveforms. This is the only real world. This is the “now” universe. This subtle world operates outside space and time, and this “now” universe is within us. So close but seems really far (another power of ignorance). The physical world is not that real; it is only made of memory objects. It always seems that we are interacting with the physical world, but this is untrue. The real interaction takes place in the “now” universe. The interaction of the subtle waveforms is projected out as the physical world by the power of Awareness. There is no denying that there is limited knowledge about the “now” universe. More efforts must be made to really understand the functioning of this subtle universe.