The Srimad-Bhagavatam is filled with fantastic stories, including a description of a human dynasty descending from the Sun. Thompson counters that issues identified with contemporary science can frequently sound nearly as fantastic – especially if taken out of context.
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According to the Bhagavata Purana, once Maha-Visnu glances over the unmanifest form of matter (pradhana), it undergoes numerous transformations subsequently producing countless universes. Thompson explains how such perspectives offer surprising similarities to contemporary concepts of quantum foam, wherein quantum jumps produce space within which varied universes can subsequently unfold.
In this verse, Lord Rsabhadeva teaches his sons that self-realization is the purpose of human life. Thompson contrasts that with worldviews identified with evolutionary perspectives focused on examining animalistic propensities. While drawing upon the Vedic literary tradition, Thompson proposes that human potentialities well surpass those of a sophisticated anthropoid.
Is there a reality to heaven and hell, or are they imagined constructs described within religious traditions? Thompson begins by examining an apparent enlightenment consensus that tends toward denying existence beyond three-dimensional gross matter. Enhancing the discussion with anecdotes from his recent presentation at the “Parliament of the World's Religions” in Chicago, Thompson encourages his audience to consider possibilities beyond the constraints of an exclusively materialistic paradigm.
Thompson examines the descriptions offered by this verse regarding the inevitable difficulties of old age, and follows with a discussion of near-death experiences, referencing Eastern concepts of karmic reaction and the transmigration of conditional souls. According to Thompson, a central reason Vedic literature stresses such points is to induce human beings to seriously consider their proclivity to experience tangible spiritual reality.
In a famous debate between Newton and Leibniz, Newton proposed that God periodically adjusted the motions of the planets in order to maintain precise motion, whereas Leibniz countered that since God is perfect, adjustments were not required. Thompson draws from perspectives offered in the Bhagavad-gita to help shed light upon this age-old dispute.
Modern science considers sound vibration as mechanical waves. Vedic literature presents a definition that appears to transcend that by considering matter manifesting from energy identified with sound. Thompson examines the Puranic concept of sound by using three examples drawn from contemporary natural science – quantum mechanics, virtual reality, and the workings of the inner ear. He proposes that information expressed via a Vedic understanding of sound, may be fundamental to the manifestation of the cosmos.
Thompson analyzes calculations described in this chapter of the Srimad-Bhagavatam that reference motion of an “ultimate particle, which is indivisible,” called the paramanu, or atom. For example, time attributed for the integration of six of these minute particles is considered a truti, or 1/1687.5 of a second. These basic units are then combined to form days, months, years, and yuga cycles lasting 4,320,000 years. One thousand yuga cycles is considered a kalpa, or 4,320,000,000 years.
Thompson compares Vedic conceptions of space, with concepts prominent within contemporary scientific discourse. For example, the Srimad-Bhagavatam consistently refers to realms of experience beyond standard human perception, yet potentially experiential through higher-dimensional correspondence. Thompson suggests that an examination of phenomena such as remote psychokinesis which can likewise appear to defy the known laws of nature could facilitate both productive insight, and an expanded appreciation of the concept of space.
Is matter as presently experienced the origin of everything experiential? Perhaps not, according to Thompson, if considering how in everyday experience ordinary matter tends to remain ordinary without the interjection of personal initiative. Since contemporary scientific theories have not yet comprehensively accounted for the phenomenon of personality, Thompson proposes that a study of literature rooted in the Eastern traditions that consider the primacy of a Supreme Person could lend helpful insight into the intrinsic quality of matter.