The book is most exceptional (Dr. Trasi) clearly writes about a subject he knows about from experience, knowledge, and much thought. He writes well and clearly a reviewer is expected to find and tell the weaknesses in a book review, and it is hard to fault this book.
“This book is not only for the intellectually curious; it is, in my opinion, a necessary companion for all those who are seriously pursuing the path of enlightenment. If approached correctly, this book can literally take decades off the search, given all the wrong turns that one is prone to take before waking up to the simplicity of what is.
Trasi’s clarity of thought and lucidity of expression makes his work highly readable and thought-provoking.”“For the average man, with his familiar comforting concepts of a benevolent God, of Rebirth, After-life, Heaven and Hell and so on, this book comes as a jolt. He may resist instant conversion. But he can’t remain unaffected by the force of Trasi’s logic and conviction This book is a must for the true seeker’s shelf a unique contribution the author has successfully decoded the mystic language of the saints providing new and deepened insight into theories of Enlightemnent and Liberation makes a complete and in- depth psychological study of the Enlightened and Liberated person, a task perhaps never attempted before.
What is the precise nature of Reality or God?
And what exactly, in scientific terms, is the much-talked about spiritual phenomenon called Enlightenment? Is it at all scientifically possible for a state devoid of ego to exist? And can a person do his normal duties in life in such a state?
This book answers these and kindred questions convincingly: in a way that should appeal to a scientist, a spiritualist and a lay person alike. Uncommonly combining in him the rationality of a medical scientist and the profundity of his religion philosophical studies, the author demonstrates how the spiritual phenomena of Enlightenment and Liberation do have an eminently satisfactory scientific explanation an explanation which he also reconciles with conventional spiritual teachings. Finally, flitting adroitly from Advaita to Tao, Zen to Sufism, Buddhism to Christianity, Dr. Trasi shows how the teachings of different faiths aren’t different in essence, but just constitute intricate parts of the one and the same grand, big picture.
With deep insight, forceful logic and supporting references, Dr. Trasi’s book not only dispels many of the myths, misconceptions and distortions woven around Enlightenment, the Liberated State, the Soul and Death, but explores the rationale behind wide-ranging traditional beliefs as well. Also set out is a scientific explanation of diverse spiritual terms.
Nor is the practical aspect neglected here including, as it does, a scientifically-backed guide to offset the oft-recurring doubts and questions that nag the average spiritual enthusiast.
Written lucidly, the book is bound to interest scientists, sceptics, and anyone else even remotely concerned with spirituality.
Dr. Nitin Trasi is a practising gynaecologist, with a post-graduate degree in the discipline from the University of Bombay.
The son of an eminent mathematician and theoretical physicist, he has come to be deeply versed in the fundamentals of the new physics. This he combines not only with serious studies of religion and philosophy, but also with profound personal insight, as well as close interaction with several sages, including an over decade-long association and extensive discussions with Sri Ramesh Balsekar a disciple of Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj. And, then, with an added gift of felicitous writing, he is ideally qualified to investigate the spiritual phenomena of Enlightenment and Liberation.
This work, The Science of Enlightenment by Dr. Nitin Trasi is an attempt to find a scientific basis for consciousness and spirituality. There are at least two questions for which answers have been eluding us for thousands of years: Why is there anything instead of Nothing And why are there living and non-living things? The above two questions can be further expanded to include: Why is there again a difference between various forms of living beings, particularly regarding Consciousness Do animals have consciousness, or is it that Man alone is gifted with consciousness? And when did Man become conscious that he is conscious? Is consciousness entirely due to material assemblage of things or is there something beyond materialism in consciousness?
One can go on with more and more questions of similar nature. To quote Immanuel Kant, “Two things fill the mind with awe and wonder. The starry heavens above me and the moral laws within me.
Dr. Trasi has analysed some of the concepts connected with consciousness in great detail, collecting and expanding on the thoughts of great philosophers and saints. The writing is lucid and cogent. The author provokes thinking and one can elaborate further on the ideas suggested by Dr.Trasi. I find the hook to be highly educative and it will certainly lead one to find spiritual solace. The extensive bibliography will also aid interested students to proceed further in the study. I wish the author all happiness in all his endeavours.
From time immemorial, ever since he learned to speak and think, man has speculated and wondered about God, and about things spiritual. Ancient and prehistoric art and paintings testify to this fact. But never has a scientifically convincing answer been found so far for the vexed question — does God exist, and if he does, what is his nature? Now this crucial gap in our knowledge is sought to be filled by this book.
This book, then, is offered especially to those readers who may be plagued by the common existential questions about Life, God, and so on — in short, those who sometimes wish to know What Is It All About?
The subject of spirituality is generally considered highly esoteric, and has always been shrouded in myth, mystery, superstition and tradition. The aim and purpose of this book then is to demystify the entire subject of spirituality and the phenomena of Enlightenment and Liberation. It is to demonstrate that Enlightenment and Liberation do have a scientific basis, and can be precisely defined in scientific, psychological terms.
Although volumes of literature have already been written on the subject of spirituality, and there have also been books correlating spirituality with physics (notably The Tao of Physics by Fritjof Capra) and with psychology (The Spectrum of Consciousness and others by Ken Wilber), this book attempts to do something different in that it offers for the first time a completely cohesive theory explaining spirituality from all angles spiritual, scientific, anatomic, physiological, psychological, mystic, and practical a sort of a Grand Unified Theory of spirituality. It is also shown how the traditional or conventional teachings can he reconciled with this theory.
This book defines precisely and explains in detail the phenomena of Enlightenment and Liberation in psychological terms, and makes a complete and in-depth psychological study of the Enlightened and Liberated person, a task perhaps never attempted before. It goes into the subject of death, and also describes the true nature of God and explores the possibility of proving or disproving) his existence. It finally discusses in scientific detail the practical aspect of what a person is to do to reach his spiritual goal, and the relevance of the teacher — the guru—and of the various spiritual techniques, and also their scientific basis
In short, this book attempts to provide a complete and comprehensive theoretical explanation as well as practical guide to all things spiritual. All that is asked of the reader is that he keep aside for a few moments his own existing notions and ideas on the subject and read the book with a completely open mind. At the same time, the reader is not being asked to accept the conclusions in this book as final and authoritative. All that he is asked to do is to at least consider this theory with an open mind, and perhaps use it as a sort of a working hypothesis during his own research on the subject, for ultimately, each has to find out and see for himself.
This, then, is a scientific study of spirituality spirituality examined from the perspective of science, medicine, psychology. And it is shown that a convincing, consistent, cohesive scientific explanation can be given for spiritual phenomena. The spiritual message is restated here in the scientific idiom in the language of science.
Perhaps, one hopes, the day is not far off when the phenomena of Enlightenment and Liberation may be found included in standard medical texts of psychology and a liberated or enlightened person is seen not as a freak of nature but as the most normal sane uncomplicated human being that can be. And if this text serves to contribute even a little to that end I would consider my labour well rewarded.
Science versus Spirituality’
Science and spirituality are commonly perceived to be divorced from each other; they are thought to be mutually exclusive. So much so that one normally does not look for scientific explanations for spiritual phenomena. Even those men of science who believe in the spiritual seem to have compartmentalised their minds, so that science and spirituality co-exist, but in an uneasy truce. It is presumed that one cannot demand scientific explanations in spiritual matters.
But in ancient times, both in India and the West, the two had:
1. The word spirituality’ has been used here in the sense of a genuine and earnest quest for the truth about spiritual matters, God, etc.
Religion, on the other hand, is a set of traditional beliefs handed over from generation to generation, along with the attendant rites and rituals. Spirituality and religion are thus far removed from one another, and in fact, may have nothing at all to do with each other. A person maybe truly spiritual without being religious, and religious persons are rarely, if ever, truly spiritual in the sense in which the word is used here. Religion implies belief, usually blind, whereas true spirituality requires that nothing be taken on trust. In fact, unquestioning faith is demanded by most religions, whereas a true spiritual quest primarily requires just the opposite a questioning, enquiring mind. Although some religions state this as a principle (notably Hinduism and Buddhism), in actual practice, it is found that a religious person rarely questions his beliefs a common origin. In fact, science was called ‘natural philosophy’ in the West, and in the East too, spirituality was approached in a spirit of scientific enquiry. The Brahma Sutra begins with the words, athato brahmajijnasa (now, therefore, an enquiry into Brahman). It was in later ages that the split occurred, science on the one side, spirituality on the other. Now, to reconcile the two is, as Dr. S. Radhakrishnan has said, the task set to our generation.
Secondly, though some of the spiritual texts may have been written in a scientific manner, science itself has since advanced to an extent which could not have been possibly imagined in those early times. So it is now perhaps time to re-evaluate the spiritual contentions in the light of current scientific knowledge.
Finally, the distinctions between ‘spirituality’ and ‘science’, these very classifications, are themselves man-made and artificial. Nature is one, and knows no such distinctions. It follows therefore that if a phenomenon exists in Nature, it must submit to a ‘scientific’ explanation, however far we may be from discovering one. As men of science, it behoves us to look at such matters with a scientific perspective, in an objective manner.
Is it then possible to look into the matter of spirituality with a scientific eye? Is it possible to form a hypothesis which will broadly cover and explain these phenomena which, we will decide to agree, do undeniably exist— a theory which will satisfy both scientist and spiritualist?
This, then, is the problem which will be addressed in the succeeding pages.
A Note on the use of the word ‘Consciousness’: The word consciousness’ (with a small c) is used in this book in its ordinary meaning, as a function or property of the living human brain.
Etymologically the word ‘consciousness’ is derived from the Latin scire (to know) and cum (with). Thus ‘consciousness’ is “to know with”. A lower life-form may be alive, but not really conscious in the sense of being aware. What is required for such conscious awareness is a nervous system sufficiently advanced with a collection of specialised nerve cells which we call the brain. The word ‘awareness’ is specifically used in this book to denote the active aspect of consciousness, or consciousness in action’, so to speak. It denotes attention. Thus, there may be consciousness without awareness as with respect to subliminal stimuli, for example.
Thus, the word with the small c (‘consciousness’) has been used for the individual consciousness. On the other hand, we have used the word with a capital C (Consciousness’) to denote the collective or Universal Consciousness. When it is stated that “Consciousness is one” (chapter 1), it refers to the postulate that although we feel that we are each of us separate centres of awareness, each with our own individual, discrete, autonomous consciousness (with a small c the actual reality is that the there only one Universal Consciousness or simply Consciousness (capital C).
Even so, at this point, we are still talking of Consciousness as if inanimate objects and the rest of the inanimate universe is something different. However, as we progress through the book, the word expands till it includes everything that exists and ultimately the word Consciousness comes to take an all- encompassing meaning synonymous with Brahman, That, Tao, All-That-Is, Mind, etc. Thus, later on in the book we will see that the ‘external’ world too can be said to be within Consciousness just as in a dream the entire world of objects is within the dream- consciousness.
This is the point where present-day science radically differs. In the presently accepted scientific world-view, matter is seen as the primary reality, and consciousness is considered secondary. That is, consciousness is seen as a property of matter, or an epiphenomenon’. On the other hand, in the philosophical world- view, Consciousness is primary, and matter is seen to exist only because Consciousness exists. That is, Consciousness is the primary reality, or the base or ground of all that exists (‘the ground of all being’). Thus in the spiritual or philosophical reality, everything, including matter, exists in Consciousness. It only appears as if consciousness is a function of matter (of the brain) just as in a dream, the dream consciousness appears to be a function of the brain of the body seen in the dream. In short, the world exists in Consciousness and not the other way around.
Interestingly, exactly this same theory has now been propounded in detail by physicist Amit Goswami3 who claims that it solves most or all the paradoxes of quantum physics.
However, the main purpose of this book is not really to speculate about such matters, but rather to establish that the phenomena of Enlightenment and Liberation do in fact exist, and that they can be explained very well in medical and psychological terms. In this book we are interested less in the theories of Consciousness and matter, and more in the condition of Enlightenment, the state of Liberation and the psychology of the sage, the Enlightened One.
Condensation: This is a chapter-wise condensation or summary of the main thesis as outlined in detail in the book. A brief reading of this may prepare the reader for what follows later.
Chapter 1: This book is a scientific study of spirituality, and as a starting point we have taken the core of the teaching of all the sages over the centuries, which is that Consciousness is one, in other words, we are not separate psychological entities.
It is only man that suffers from this unique delusion of being a separate entity, of ‘having’ a ‘soul’. How did this come to be? We find that it is the combined result of his symbolic way of thinking, language, ability to think of past and future, and fear of death. Symbolic thinking gives him the ability to symbolise and conceptualise ‘himself as a separate entity over and above the body-mind, and the fear of future death and annihilation gives him the incentive and reason to thus conceptualise. And so in his rejection of death, is born the idea of the separate soul or ego, which is considered to have existed as a separate entity even before the birth of that body-mind, and which will survive after its disintegration.
Occasionally, a rare human being sees through this illusion, and such a person is then said to be Illumined or Enlightened.
Chapter 2: Psychological suffering is shown to be related to this idea of being a separate entity. This idea leads to unnecessary conditioning, which in turn leads to unnecessary thinking, and avoidable (psychological) suffering. The Enlightened person, on the other hand, undergoes a process of de-conditioning leading eventually to his Liberation (from unnecessary suffering).
Chapter 3: The idea of Liberation is dangled before the eyes of the common man by most religions as a sort of a panacea for all the ills of this world, and he is encouraged to pursue it as a goal. Thus, begins the seeking of Enlightenment by the person for ‘himself’ as an entity. As Enlightenment is, in fact, the realisation that he is not a separate entity, these very efforts thus become self-defeating, for such me-based efforts inevitably reinforce and perpetuate the illusion of the ‘me’. This is the paradox of spiritual effort.
Common spiritual terminology is discussed from a scientific perspective.
Chapter 4: Enlightenment is defined as the intuitive understanding that one is not a separate entity. The characteristics of Enlightenment are discussed, and its psychological, physiological and anatomic aspects.
Chapter 5: ‘Liberation’ is the end-result of the process of deconditioning initiated by Enlightenment.
What are the characteristics of a Liberated person? How does he act and react? What does he do in life after Liberation? What does he think? How is his sleep? What does he dream? How does he see the world? What is his relationship with God? These and other questions are discussed, including the scientific aspects, brain waves, and awareness.
Mysticism and modern science (especially quantum physics) are shown to converge and so merge imperceptibly that it is often difficult to distinguish one from the other. Space and time are both seen as illusions, and consciousness is no more merely a function of the brain. It is seen as all-encompassing, all-inclusive.
Chapter 6: Is a guru required? How exactly can he help? How does one select the proper guru? What must be the attitude of the seeker towards the guru?
Chapter 7: What happens after death? If there is no soul in reality, then what survives after death? And why do the religions insist on life after death? What is rebirth and who is reborn? Revolutionary as the idea (that there is no separate individual ‘soul’) may seem, it is shown that this is exactly what the sages and even traditional scriptures have been trying to say.
Chapter 8: The practical aspect — what is one to do actually?
The second part dealing with the spontaneous processes is only of academic interest. It is included specially to point out that these are not directions to be actively followed, (which is how they are often misunderstood).
Chapter 9: The previous chapter is here correlated with the traditional margas of karma, bhakti and jñãna. The dispute over their relative merits is discussed.
Chapter 10: This chapter is on God. The common man’s idea of God is first discussed, and then the reality of God as described by the mystic. The question of proving the existence of God is scientifically explored, and also the question of the reason for the existence of the universe. Finally, as a sample, the descriptions given by two well-known mystics of India are presented in some detail.
Appendix: The doctrine of Advaita is compared with the thesis outlined in this book. The matter of paranormal phenomena, miracles, telepathy, faith healing, instances of ‘reincarnation’, etc., are discussed in the light of our thesis, and it is shown that all these can be convincingly and satisfactorily explained in a scientific way. Niruikalpa samadhi and sahaja sthiti are discussed, as also meditative techniques.
Finally some commonly asked questions are answered.
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