Spirituality in a nutshell
November 23, 2018
This blog post could either be the most boring blog post on this blog or could be something that makes sense. A few months back, I read this article written by Ryan Dahl, the founder of Node.js. I Iiked the idea as for why we should consider working on Artificial Intelligence. I was quite excited, so I considered spending some time researching this field. The primary aim of this research was to see if we can build a 100% human-like AI.
I decided to start from the very basics - the brain. I wanted to know how it functions and the major role it plays in us. I bought a book named Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain by David Eagleman, a quite popular neuroscientist.
After reading a few sections from this book, the first mind-blowing fact got revealed to me. The sub-conscious mind is where the brain has the total control and the conscious mind is where we have the total control. I am sure that sounds like everyone knows this, but the moment you take credit for a particular idea which randomly arrives in your head - you must realize it was not you (the conscious mind), it was the sub-conscious mind which worked behind your back 24 by 7 inferencing a lot of data in order to deliver you that particular idea or thought. David puts it very nicely, that it is equivalent to the realization of the Universe, that we are not at the center of it, we are just a very small part of it. One more good analogy mentioned by David is the newspaper one. The one who reads the news from the newspaper is the conscious mind and outside world in which events are happening is the sub-conscious mind. The brain creates the newspaper and keeps delivering it to you - and you pick up the most relevant and useful news for you at that particular moment.
Anyways, the research was going on quite scientifically, but somehow, I got to know an Indian yogi, a mystic who goes by name Sadhguru. I am not sure what was the link, but I remember watching his interview with David Eagleman. Also, my friend Smrithi once told me about Sadhguru and the Adiyogi sculpture that he made in Coimbatore. I remember that while I was into this research I started spending more time watching Sadhguru’s lectures and speeches on Life. I don’t know why, but this guy was making a lot of sense to me. I just couldn’t understand, I was literally addicted to his talks. After a while, I understood why that was happening to me. It was because he talked about some significant aspects of Life which I was always curious about.
To put it simply, if you show me a person who knows the secrets or meaning of Life, I would keep wandering around him or her. Science never helped me understand it, maybe due to the fact that Science is systematic and experimental, Science believes in seeing or observing things, whereas, if you need to know the Life in it’s utmost entirety, you need to experience it. And the day when you start experiencing something beyond the physical (or material) aspects of Life, you become spiritual. A very good and pleasant state to be in, where there are no boundaries or attachments, you become inclusive and all you do is just explore and experience the Life around you.
I paused the scientific approach and continued with the new approach, the Yogic approach or Indian Science. Before I continue further, I would like to mention that whatever I have written about Yogic culture in this blog post is basically from the vast majority of the content that I had gone through, most of which is from Sadhguru’s talks and his book by name Inner Engineering: A Yogi’s Guide to Joy.
Yogic culture in a nutshell
I am not an expert, but I am going to mention some crucial things that I learned and the things which backed my AI research. In Yogic culture, human beings are defined as the combination of body, mind, and energy. You might feel that you are your brain or body, but it’s not. You are the energy or Life energy which runs all over the body that you have. The rest of the stuff is just working as a part of Life process.
The ‘you’ in Yogic culture
As I mentioned earlier, you are not your body, you are just the energy. If you are not spiritual, it might take some time for you to understand that, but let me try again using a diagram.
That’s the you I am talking about. You can also refer to it as consciousness, the thing which makes us human ‘beings’. We are very much conscious unlike other creatures on the planet. If you work on increasing your consciousness, you can access the deeper dimensions of the intelligence which is present within you. In fact, everyone has it, but only a few are capable to look at it. Sadhguru is one of them. It’s not some magical power or something which only special people can look into, it’s available to everyone, the only thing required is the willingness and proper practices.
For the intellectual people around there, this might feel fancy and weird at first (even I felt the same), probably because the intellect is having a hard time dissecting the logic behind something which has to experience beyond intellect. Although, I will try my best to make some sense until the end of this blog post.
Why one should become spiritual?
The choice is always up to you, but being spiritual will let you explore the unlimited possibilities of being human. You become free from the physical world and you are never dependent on anyone for being joyful or blissful. You get total control over yourself. Again, this might sound dramatic, but it’s true and experienced by a lot of yogis around the world - especially in India. It is just a choice, whether you want to live your Life consciously or unconsciously. Being spiritual is nothing to do with any religion or any kind of bizarre religious activities. Spirituality is about yourself. You become spiritual when you experience something beyond the material aspects of Life. One such prominent case of spirituality was Swami Vivekananda. He was one of the most important personalities in India. Give him a bunch of big fat books and he will read them in a days time, give him a newspaper and take it off after he has done with it and he can write the entire newspaper with all the punctuations as is. This is not magic or some kind of superpower, this is considered as normal when you access the deeper dimensions of the intelligence that is within you.
Back to research
The Yogic culture looks at the mind in quite a different way. I would highly recommend you guys to watch this video before continuing.
Alright, the most important thing to note is that in Yogic culture, there is no such thing as ‘the brain’. The brain is considered as a part of your body, nothing special about it. It’s the mind which is more important here. As I mentioned earlier, we are a combination of body, mind, and energy. The mind is now categorized into 4 major parts.
Buddhi - Intellect
A dimension of mind which keeps dissecting logic about things you see or observe. The simplest example is that you know when there is a wall in front of you, your intellect will command you to not go through it. How does intellect know this? It’s backed by memory. The moment you see a wall, your intellect gets the right amount of information from the memory to figure out the wall properly. Following might be happening in no time in your mind:
Hey, watch out, it’s wall, something which is concrete and you can’t pass through it. So better don’t.
Can we add it to AI?
Yes, intellect is equivalent to inference module in terms of AI and very much required. It would be impossible to build AI without this.
Ahankara - Identity
When you are identified with something, your intellect protects it no matter what. The worst thing can happen is, you will never be able to experience others aspects of Life when you have tons of identities or even when you are strongly identified with something.
A quick story
This used to happen to me, I was strongly identified with privacy or protecting online privacy and today I can say that I literally wasted some good moments of my Life. For most of the decisions I used to take, my approach was privacy first and then everything else. When my friends at Protegrity used to take photos, I used to avoid the camera and recently it occurred to me that I messed up such good social moments by acting immaturely. Basically, that is what being identified with something means. I can understand privacy is parmount at certain places but not everywhere and for every moment of Life.
If you are identified with money or wealth, you will always think in terms of that. For humans, it is necessary to not get identified with any material aspects of Life. As Sadhguru mentioned, in the early ages of India, before giving education to students, their identity used to be fixed to Cosmos - a ‘limitless’ identity. When you have set of limited identities, your intellect fails to function at its optimum level, because you will always think in a certain way, the way in which your identifications comes first and then the rest of the things that intellect has to deal with. Always keep your intellect sharp by dropping all limited identities that you have gathered.
Extending the knife analogy
If your intellect is your knife, then you must keep it clean all the time. When you cut raw meat using your knife, some of the meat fluid or blood gets stuck to the knife. Now, that’s what we can call an identified intellect. If you use the same knife (without cleaning) to cut an Apple, you will not only get to taste the Apple when you eat it but also some raw meat. It’s when you clean the knife (not getting identified) and cut the Apple, you get to taste only the Apple. Therefore, keep your intellect away from limited identities - it works better that way.
Can we add it to AI?
Yes, but in a different way. We would like some robots to get identified with certain things. If defending nation’s border is the job, the robot has to be identified with the country it lives in. But, as the plan was to make a human-like AI, this needs to be taken care of. From the top, it seems programmable.
Manas - Memory
I have not gotten much information on this part of the mind, but from the resources that I had gone through, what I can presume is, memory can be categorized into two major types. One which comes with the body (genetic memory, evolutionary memory, etc.) and the other which we feed in consciously or unconsciously. In technical terms, we can say that genetic memory is more like the ROM - which comes with us or the body and we cannot really alter it, but I also heard that with proper Yogic practices, one can also access or modify the evolutionary or genetic memory which is stored within us. As for the second type of the memory, yes, we do need to feed data in our memory for our intellect to function properly. The intellectual capability is also dependent on the quality of the data that is stored in memory. I have an example for that.
Few words on negative or nasty thoughts
Have you ever had a thought which was negative or nasty or thought which you were ashamed of? But, after having that thought you felt upset for actually having that thought. Wait? How is that even possible that you didn’t want to think of something but it arrived in your mind? Probably because the stored data was not of the utmost quality. Most of the people feel terrible for having negative or nasty thoughts, but you must realize it is not your mistake, it’s the mind functioning - it’s the intellect trying to figure out things based on the memory or data which is stored (not the evolutionary or genetic one), and on the top of that, it’s rapidly done. When you perfectly realize the ‘you’ part in your body, you will never be upset about having any kinds of thoughts. But if you are identified with your thoughts, which means, when you start thinking that your thoughts are the ‘you’ part in your body, that can cause an enormous amount of trouble to you. The next time you get any negative thoughts, just ignore because it’s not you, it’s your mind and it has to run in order for you to survive. Although, storing good quality data in memory is in your hands, rest the mind will take care of.
Can we add it to AI?
Yes, definitely. I don’t think I need to mention more details about it. This part is being already exercised in today’s AI.
Chitta - Awareness or Intelligence unsullied by memory
Honestly, I have not yet experienced this ultimate state and I am not sure if I will ever get to experience it, but, as being highly conscious requires too much of Yogic practices, the same goes with accessing this dimension of the mind. But, once you access it, as mentioned by Sadhguru, there is a mischievous way of saying in the Yogic culture that even God becomes your slave. I would highly recommend you guys to read this article on Chitta by Swami Sivananda. It is very interesting. Based on what Swami Sivananda mentioned in the article, the thing I can infer is that accessing Chitta is more like controlling your sub-conscious mind. I am not sure, but if that happens, then that would be a great experience.
Can we add it to AI?
I highly doubt this one because of the complexity of the consciousness involved.
Before finalizing, I would like to present one more interesting thing about the energy part within us.
Death is not the end for us human beings. Only if you are identified with your body, death would seem to be an end for you. Again, you are not your body or mind, you are the energy. If you check the history of yogis, they refer to death as ‘leaving the body’ because it’s the energy which liberates from the body. If we check our modern Science, it’s proved that:
Energy can neither be created nor destroyed; Energy can only be transferred or changed from one form to another.
Which concludes that you will exist as energy after your death, which is one of the reason why there are ghost stories around the world.
The haunted movies depict such things in a very nice way. The thing they are referring to spirit or soul is itself the energy, maybe negative energy and if you see, that energy tries to get into someone’s body to perform certain activities, which is to gain access in the physical world by using the physical body.
Mahāsamādhi is the act of consciously and intentionally leaving one’s body. A realized yogi or yogini who has attained the state of nirvikalpa samādhi, will, at an appropriate time, consciously exit from their body. This is known as mahāsamādhi. -Wikipedia
When you increase your consciousness at higher levels, it is possible that you can consciously leave your body. Which is to say, at your will. Some yogis plan their Mahasamadhi, for example, Swami Vivekananda once mentioned to his brother disciple Swami Abhedananda that he would pass away in coming 5 to 6 years and he did. Taken from here:
“Three days before his passing, as he was walking to and fro on the spacious lawn of the monastery in the afternoon with Swami Premananda, Swami Vivekananda pointed to a particular spot on the bank of the Ganga, and said to him gravely, “when I give up the body, cremate it there”. On that very spot stands the temple at Belur math in his honour.”
Highly recommended to watch the following video:
Libration or Moksha is the goal
I may sound like some priest, but from what I have read or experienced in a small extent, the goal of every human being is to cross that limited consciousness and join the divine which is infinite consciousness. Rest all the things in your path are accessories of the Life, it’s better to realize it earlier before it’s too late.
Sanskrit moksha or Prakrit mokkha refers to the liberation or salvation of a soul from saṃsāra, the cycle of birth and death. It is a blissful state of existence of a soul, attained after the destruction of all karmic bonds. A liberated soul is said to have attained its true and pristine nature of infinite bliss, infinite knowledge and infinite perception. -Wikipedia
The conclusion is quite straightforward, for the human-like AI, we can focus on three major parts of the mind, which are, Buddhi, Identity, and Manas. But since I was looking for making 100% human-like AI, now I doubt it, because of Chitta. Consciousness and Emotions will highly lack, even though we consider programming it, it will badly lack the human factor. Above all, I am not sure if we can ever think about implementing the energy factor in our human-like AI.
Bottom line: Nope, that doesn’t seem to be possible according to the content that I had gone through. If at all we could in future then that would be wonderful. Fingers crossed
Why you stopped the scientific approach immediately?
I like Science, but I always used to feel left out. You can read tons of Science facts and call yourself Mr. ‘I know everything’, but the question is have you experienced any of that? In Yogic culture, it is said that knowledge is not knowing, but the experience is. It is when you experience something, you can say that you know it well. Most of the Sadhguru’s content that I had gone through, my reactions were, “Oh, damn that happened with me” - “Hey, that’s awesome I can relate to it” that’s when I realized that there is a big difference between knowledge and experience. Which brings to a contradiction that not everyone can experience the way Indian yogis are experiencing, but Science considers everyone. Although, if you can experience a little of Spirituality, you will get amazed by the possibilities. Not to mention, there are practices to experience everything that yogis talk about, the first and foremost is yoga. And, that’s the reason I chose this approach because if not all, I have experienced some of it and it feels better when you can relate things quickly with yourself, on the other side I cannot experience my neurons firing up in the brain commanding my motors nerves to act on something. That sounds legit, but I cannot experience it.
Myth about Life
This is very interesting and it changed my perspective towards Life. Sadhguru says, there is no such thing as ‘my’ Life or ‘your’ Life. There is just Life and you are a tiny part of it. In a larger time scale, we are like tiny pop-outs on the computer screen which last for 2 seconds, if you go, it won’t matter, Life will still work the way it is. That is to say, a lot of people consider themselves as the center of the Life (human-centric), but it’s not, you could give a meaning to the Life, but it’s not your or anyone’s Life. Life is a superset and we are a tiny part of it.
Motivation for Spirituality
I was not knowing what it is to be spiritual a month or two ago, I was just living ‘my’ Life. It was when I left Protegrity and was jobless, I started to think what is Life all about, so, I will get some other job now, I will keep working till my retirement and just die. That was really hard for me to digest, somewhere I used to feel that this is weird that if death is the end why we should live (not being suicidal - just a thought). I always felt that there has to be something more to Life. Dwelling in money, career growth, competition, pleasures are never going to end - they are limitless, they will never stop. That was my state of mind - too many questions about Life. Just after I started listening to Sadhguru who has figured Life very well, almost all the questions got dissolved - literally dissolved. Spirituality is about knowing your true nature, once that is known you could take on with Life again, but now with a very beautiful and realized approach. In short, you will live your Life more sensibly. It’s wonderful and I feel everyone should at least touch the surface of Spirituality to know their ultimate goal in the Life - it’s not wealth or social status, it’s the liberation. Money is just a useful accessory, never should be a goal.
That’s what we are, a unique and well-established piece of technology. If we can just pay some attention to ourselves, we could discover too many new things that would transcend us to something more than human beings.
Have a great day!
Hi, I am yet another Software Engineer and my interests revolve around UI, UX, and Product. I write about random stuff, I explore life and sometimes I look for stars in the skies.