Appearance and Reality- Concept of Maya

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Maya and Modern Science                      
Modern science attempts to understand the very nature of things which it claims to be the ultimate truth. But this attempt cannot succeed for the following reasons.
1. Vedanta says our investigation of nature is limited by our mind and its associated faculties, the senses.
2. Mind is limited by space, time and causality and hence it cannot unravel the mystery of the Unlimited.
3. The world which we actually experience therefore exists only in relation to the minds that experience it as such. If we have less or more senses than what we actually possess, we shall be seeing the world in a different manner. The world that is being experienced by us externally has therefore no unchangeable and ultimate existence. But at the same time it cannot be called non-existent, because it is being experienced. This is the nature of Maya as described in Vedanta. These ideas can be observed in modern physics dealing with sub-atomic particles.

The behavior of electrons in the nucleus of matter displays the features associated with Maya, the most important one being the feature of indeterminacy and therefore indefinability. It says that nature at sub-atomic level is such that we cannot determine it clearly. This principle of indeterminacy was discovered by Werner Heisenberg who says the momentum as well as the position of an electron cannot be determined at the same time even theoretically.

The concepts of exact position and momentum become meaningless at the nuclear level of nature because when we try to measure the momentum of an electron, it would have changed its position in unpredictable ways so as to make its position indeterminate. It is obvious that without the knowledge of both (momentum and position) an electron or any sub-atomic particle stands unknown to us. Hence the certainty of matter at the gross level turns into a mysterious indeterminate principle at the sub-atomic particle level, defying any positive prediction.

The famous physicist Fritjof Capra says “We cannot say that an atomic particle exists at a certain place nor can we say it does not exist. Being a probability pattern, the particle has tendencies to exist in various places and thus manifest a strange kind of physical reality between existence and non-existence.”

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