The Aho of Physics

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As a researcher, I’ve been around the block a few times when I’ve finally validated an idea or some deeper insight into a problem just comes! In such an instance a lot of things happen super quickly… the mind races into an expansive state, breath slows, the surroundings fade away, eyes hold a steady gaze not really looking at anything, a zillion dots get reconnected to form a completely new picture… At such an instance, a sound comes. The most famous such sound is “Eureka!”. In Sanskrit, this sound is “Aho!”. Loosely translated, in English, “Aho!” becomes “Ah Ha!”

Some years ago, I was listening to Prof. Richard Feynman speaking on random topics in Physics. His deep love and understanding of Physics was apparent in the way his eyes were glistening when he was explaining how a rubber band works; the way the molecules get stretched and the energetic implications and the inner workings of the simple act of stretching a rubber band!! And then he said something that still makes me stop and reflect:

“Nature uses only the longest threads to weave her patterns, so each small piece of her fabric reveals the organization of the entire tapestry.” – Richard P. Feynman

What he is saying is that intense and focused scrutiny of a small portion of the Universe leads to an expansive and complete knowledge of the entire Universe!

I’ve heard my guru say the same thing!! My personal guru, or Guruji as I call him is Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. For those who aren’t in the know, Guruji means respected Teacher. And to me, Guruji is just as profound as Feynman!

Sri Sri also says, Observe! Look at what is happening inside of you. Observe, again and again and eventually you will see the inner workings of the Universe right here! Apparently, the ancient Rishis (or seers) did the same thing: They went deep into Meditation and discovered the underlying laws of the workings of the Universe!! Observe. Locally. With Intensity. Again. And. Again!! Nature uses ONLY the longest threads! Aho!!

And then Feynman said something even more profound: He said if you ask Physicists why does an object continue to move in a straight line when an external force stops acting on it, they will say “because of Inertia”. But, he said, no one knows what the heck Inertia IS!! Essentially, no one knew why the heck is there mass?

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Some years later (well, many years later actually; only some years ago from the present time), the news media splashed all over “God Particle Found!!” I got interested and read up on the Higgs Boson, the particle associated with the Higgs field, yada yada yada.

What it essentially boils down to, as far as my limited ChE PhD brain can figure out, is this: There is something called the Higgs Field. Its kind of a net of sorts. As particles (electron, proton, neutron for example) interact with this net, the Higgs “net” puts a drag on the particles as they move through the Field. The more the drag, the heavier the particle is. Hence, voila, now we have MASS ladies and gentlemen!! Now we have Inertia!! “God Particle” because with mass, things could finally exist! Phew!

And then this morning, at 4:00am…

(I kid you not; it was 4:00am when I woke up and started writing this blog post; There is something about 4:00am on which there is a Ted talk. But again, I digress…)

At 4:00am I woke up with this realization that Heaviness in our actions leads to unintended consequences that we also call Karma! Aho? Lets see whether this qualifies for Aho…

Bhagavad Gita Ch 2, Ver 47 says

“ Karmanye vadhikaraste Ma Phaleshu Kadachana,
Ma Karmaphalaheturbhurma Te Sangostvakarmani”

Essentially the instruction is to not get attached to the fruits of ones action and also not get stuck in inaction! What does it mean? Keep your actions LIGHT! When actions are kept light (non attachment to the end result, nor getting stuck in inaction), only then does the Karmic cycle stop!

Still don’t see the Aho? Ok… Lets look at the photon. This is the particle of light. How does it move through the Higgs field? Lightly!! It moves so lightly that has zero mass. It is mass-less!! As a result of it being mass-less, it moves at such light speed (you see the pun?) that for a photon, time STOPS incrementing! Time dilates to a stand-till per Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity. For a photon, there is only Now; no Past, no Future. No causality.

As the “drag” on particles increases, they become heavier, have finite mass, and now they experience passage of time. With heaviness comes Past & Future. With Past & Future comes Causality. With Causality, Karma! Aho AHO!!

Keep actions light!! Freedom comes from light actions. When actions are kept light, automatically non-attachment to the outcome will happen!! And once that happens, the Universe will make an announcement “Fasten your seat belts Ladies and Gentlemen, bring your seat back and tray table into an upright and locked position. We have started our descent.”

With Karma accumulation (heavy actions) its like we are flying in an airplane 35,000 ft above the ground. We have the false impression of being free but in reality we are restricted to move inside a hollowed out aluminum tube, with essentially no freedom. As our actions become lighter and lighter, our flight begins to descend and eventually we land and can walk the wide open expanse of land, FREE!!

Aho Aho AHO!!

I’ll leave you with two words that if we eliminate from our vocabulary, freedom in action will start happening: Should and Try.

Master Yoda has already told us the secret of Try:

“Try Not. Do, or do not. There is no Try!” – Yoda

Now I suggest, drop “Should”. Live Light & Prosper!

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By training a PhD Chemical Engineer from IIT Bombay; By passion a volunteer Meditation Instructor with the Art of Living Foundation.

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