Monday, December 15, 2008

Limit of Perception

No experience is as humbling for me as sitting alone in front of the sea in a beach. I usually filter out the background noise and visuals and focus on the mighty ocean - I have been to a few beaches around the world, but nothing beats the local Chennai's Marina Beach. I usually have a lot of fun (also Bajji, Sundal) with my cousins, lose my car key etc. (and hope some friendly cousin would retrieve it in a zero probability act)

But, when I do go alone, I spend some time gazing at the mighty ocean. That's the time I let go of my bloated ego. I suddenly feel very small. It is more humbling to realize that the earth that has this mighty ocean is indeed a very small part of the solar system. For e.g., Jupiter is 1o times bigger (in diameter) and Sun 100 times (in diameter). All this Solar System is a tiny speck in the Milky Way. Btw, Milky Way is one of the many galaxies. So, the first thing I search after thinking about this is my ego. 

"How do we perceive this Universe?" is the grand question that came to my mind. Perception is a function of our senses. 

To get excited by the depth and size of the sea, I rely on my eyesight. The sea is much bigger than say, me. [1] I perceive the sea because of light. For e.g., if I went to see the sea only when it was pitch dark, I would not notice its grandness at all. And, our eyes are capable of perceiving only some wavelengths. For e.g., eyes cannot see Infra Red and Ultra Violet rays. 

What if our eyes could perceive these wavelengths reflect from the sea too? You might be able to sense the temperatures at different locations. That would give you an extra dimension of perception. For e.g, just by looking at a coffee tumbler, you might be able to say how hot it is. So, you'll agree that by just widening the range of the eyes, your perception of the Universe got a little wider.

I realized this strangely, in S. Korea. I was in Suwon, S. Korea for more time than I would have liked :-) - I had added problems of being a vegetarian, which definitely did not help. I used to see a lot of neon boards throughout Korea. When I say a lot, I mean a LOT of them.

These boards never made any sense, and never made it to my cognitive mind. Then, all of a sudden, I started learning Korean.  [2]

As soon as I started learning Korean, all the boards started screaming to me! All those that would remain silent and be filtered, suddenly started making sense to me! Each board was speaking to my mind. So, by learning Korean, my perception widened. 

Then in a similar manner like we argued for light, we can argue for sound too. The sounds human can hear are in the range of 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz. [3] - May be we can hear finer sounds, and a wider variety of sound if we increase the range of our hearing. [4]

So far, we talked about the senses we perceive - But what if there are senses that *NONE* of the humans can perceive? Are there any senses like that? Are we missing some splendid dimension of perception? Do we miss anything great, just like we feel that someone blind is missing out on great views? How would we know? 

Is the Universe much Grander than we perceive? 

The act of communication is based on predefined common grounds. For e.g., if you don't know what the word (or sound) 'One' means, you'll not understand if I say 'One' to you. [5]. If there is no common ground, there is no way to communicate. So, is this the reason why great Saints who were One with God, couldn't put it in words what the experience would be. One thing that I find common among a lot of relegions is that once they try to define God, they try to negate what He is not - Most probably, it would be like "Formless, Attributeless...." - The Vedic way of finding God is negating all that He is not by saying Not This, Not This (Neti, Neti) - Can this be the reason why we cannot define the Grandness of the God Concept? May be the Yogis and Saints have a much wider sense of Perception that we cannot even imagine? 

The picture is from

[1] Some people may claim it is not much bigger - grrr

[2] Some people may find it co-incidental that I made friends with one lovely lady in a Sandwich shop around the same time. She could speak only Korean. 

[3] I am reminded of a tamil dialog - "Ungalukku Kaathu Konjam Kaekkatha? Illai Konjam Kooda Kaekkatha?" by Koundamani, I guess. 

[4] If the frequency is sufficiently high, we can let go of radio stations and tune to different stations by our ear! Or may be we can move around with our eyes closed, just like bats. 

[5] You may know other languages and may relate - Ondru in Tamil (Onnu in slang) could sound similar to 'One' in English - Why does English sound so close to Tamil/Sanskrit :-)
One     - Ondru / Onnu [Tamil]
Two     - Dwi 
Three  - Thra
Four    - Chathur / Naalu[Tamil]
Six       - Shash
Seven  - Sapta
Eight   - Ettu (Tamil) / Ashta
Nine    - Nava
Ten     - Dasha


Gnana Kirukan said...

Great post drogs -- I also feel the same when "ordinary" ppl dont understand "me" ;)..which makes me think whether I am Ramakrishna paramahamsa or Ramana Maharishi or even Krishna (:D) reincarnated :P

Anonymous said...

Very nice... This perception inspires me.The word has meaning more than our usual perception :D
Well coming to Sanskrit/Tamil to English,my Sanskrit lecturer used to tell similarities b/w these two languages :D

Sriram Venkateswaran Iyer said...

Drogs, I thought you were reincarnation of Sri La Prabhupada (LOL) - I know you love him so much...

Btw, no ordinary guy can understand you! I need to give that to you!


Sriram Venkateswaran Iyer said...

Hi Sindhu:
Thanks! Glad you liked the post on perception.

Btw, your Sanskrit teacher should start blogging too :-) - I'll sure follow his blog!


dhvanii said...
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