Shri Datta Swami

Posted on: 10 Mar 2019

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NERVOUS ENERGY - THE INDESTRUCTIBLE SOUL?

Shri Bharath Krishna asked: Namah Shivaya Shri Datta Swami! I am Bharath from Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham. I tried to know about mahatmas and in every story, I heard, I found that even if they are affected by deadly diseases, their smiles never fade. It is said that all of them were able to do it because they have realized that they are not the body but the Atman.

But You have said that Atman (Jeevatma) is also inert because it is controlled by Parabrahman. You also said that Atman is just the flow of energy in the neurons all over our body. At least, I understood it like this. Now I have a doubt in this regard. If a person meets with an accident and loses one of his limbs then all the neurons in that part are lost. By this, I have to conclude that some part of the Atman is also lost. But in the Bhagavad Gita you have said this:

nainaṃ chindanti śastrāṇi nainaṃ dahati pāvaka: |

na cainaṃ kledayantyāpo na śoṣayati māruta: ||

 

Weapons cannot shred the soul, nor can fire burn it.

Water cannot wet it, nor can the wind dry it.

Based on this, my doubt is that Atman cannot just be neural activity. Please comment on this Swami. Padabhivandanam Shri Datta Swami!

Swami replied: Atman means the soul, which is the awareness in a human being. The awareness is the result of inert energy working in the nervous system. When a limb is cut from the body in an accident, the nervous energy in that cut limb disappears at once. Had the nervous energy been existing in the cut limb, you could have said that the Atman is cut. When you cut a rope, the cut piece of rope remains a rope even after separating it from the main rope. In fact, when the limb is cut, the activity of nervous energy in it is also immediately lost. The cut limb does not feel pain whereas the main body having nervous energy feels pain. Pain is the result of the activity of neurons. This Atman is only a special work-form of inert energy when it gets converted to awareness in a specific functioning nervous system.

Matter can be cut but energy cannot be cut. The verse from the Gita quoted by you and others like it, describe the characteristics of energy. You cannot cut heat, light etc. Only the bearer of the energy can be cut. When the limb is cut, the nervous energy is withdrawn from the limb and is confined to the major part of the body. It is not the cutting of the nervous energy. It is only the cutting off of the limb or the possessor of the energy from the major part of the body. The work-form of energy can be generated and it can also disappear. But the basic inert energy is neither created nor destroyed as per the law of conservation of energy. When you admit that Atman is awareness, you have admitted that, scientifically, Atman is a work-form of inert energy in a functioning nervous system. The work, in this context, is the transfer of information from the senses to the brain. This explanation clearly proves that awareness is only a work form of inert energy.

In an essential sense, awareness can also be treated to be the basic inert energy which gets converted into awareness. All the characteristics of inert energy are then applied to the awareness too. It is just like applying all the properties of gold to a golden ornament. When the scientific explanation of the nature of awareness is so clear and elaborate, it cannot be contradicted by the example of the accident given by you. The doubt related to the accident is only due to a misunderstanding. As soon as the limb is cut, the awareness ceases to exist in the limb. In deep sleep, it is said that Atman alone remains. But this ‘Atmanthat remains in deep sleep is only the inert energy that remains in the gross body. This is because, in deep sleep, awareness does not exist at all. The nervous system is not at all functioning to give rise to awareness. The concept that Atman can also mean this inert energy is supported by the Gita, which says that the Atman is inert (Sthaanuh...Gita).

This Atman is clearly not God. It is only a part of creation and hence, one need not expect it to be absolutely eternal. Atman as the basic inert energy has the topmost importance within creation. It is the basic material of creation and even the basic material of awareness. Awareness in the form of thoughts is Jiiva whereas the essential material of awareness, which is the basic inert energy, is called Atman. Pure awareness, which is the awareness without any thoughts, can also be taken to be Atman. This pure awareness is almost like inert energy. The inert energy, has no thoughts because it is inert. Pure awareness also does not have any thoughts other than the single thought of self-awareness. In that sense, pure awareness and inert energy are almost one and the same and both can be called Atman. The same awareness, when it becomes a complex bundle of thoughts, is called the individual soul or Jiiva. Due to the lack of scientific knowledge, in olden days, awareness was thought to be the Creator or God.

 
   

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