Dr. Hari Sharma, MD is Professor Emeritus and former Director of the Division of Cancer Prevention and Natural Products Research at The Ohio State University College of Medicine. He practices Ayurveda at Ohio State Integrative Medicine. Center for Soft Power had an interesting and enlightening conversation with him on the connection between Vedanta, Modern Science, and Ayurveda.
Dr. Sharma briefly spoke to us about the correlation between Brahman and the DNA. There are two aspects of life – manifest and unmanifest. One-quarter of life is manifest and three-quarters is unmanifest. The manifest is comprised of the waking, dreaming, and deep sleep states. These different states influence your experiences. This is what is known as relative existence, which is ever-changing and never the same. The body, senses, mind, intellect, ego, environment are part of this relative existence and they never stay the same. Brahman – the totality – includes the manifest and the unmanifest. Nothing is outside of Brahman. All the positivity and negativity of the world are part of Brahman.
How is the DNA related to Brahman?
DNA is the physical representation of Brahman in the physiology. DNA contains all the evolutionary knowledge and is passed on from generation to generation. DNA consists of two strands that are tightly coiled around each other. Each strand has different sequences of genes made of the four bases – Adenine (A), Cytosine (C), Guanine (G), and Thymine (T). Each sequence is responsible for a particular characteristic. All the evolutionary knowledge is in the DNA. When the DNA unwinds its two strands to open, the required knowledge is taken from it, after which the DNA winds to close.
During the Big Bang, a loud sound was heard – Aum, with a bright light from which the universe was created. The power of Prana created the Big Bang. The Pranic vibrations of the Big Bang resulted in the sound of Aum. Prana creates photons, creating light of various frequencies. The vibrations of sound and light ultimately create matter, which is nothing but energy. Purusha and Prakriti, the two aspects of Brahman, are like the two strands of DNA. They are wrapped around each other. When the strands separate, Prakriti is activated, leading to creation, similar to the Big Bang. Purusha gives energy and consciousness to Prakriti.
Every person has the same four bases (ACGT) in their DNA. Every living being is coming from the same source. The only thing that differs is the expression of the DNA. To draw a comparison, the palm of your hand is the source of your five fingers, which are all different in their form. But they are all connected by the palm. Individuals feel isolated and fearful, and they fight amongst themselves without realising they are all coming from the same source. This is what is happening right now in the world. Another analogy is that waves are made of ocean water. Each wave is individual, but they all have the same source. We get lost in the waves and forget that we are all from the same source.
The real you is the Atman – the higher Self. It is not the mind, intellect, or ego. The Atman witnesses the waking, dreaming, and deep sleep states. In the waking state, you are watching your own thoughts. In your dreams, you watch yourself. In the deep sleep state, the body, mind, and intellect are all sleeping. “However, when you wake up, you say that you slept well. So, who really is witnessing it? The answer is the Atman, the real “I”, which is infinite and unbounded, and full of intelligence, energy, and bliss.”, says Dr Sharma.
Pure consciousness (Atman – the higher Self) is non-dual, indivisible, eternal, unbounded, unborn, without beginning and without end. The reflection of consciousness is Chidabhas, similar to the reflection of the sun. The reflection of the sun appears exactly like the sun. The reflection depends on the quality and direction of the reflector, which is like a mirror. The reflector is mind, intellect, Citta (storehouse of memory), and ego. These four collectively are called Antahkaran. The reflection is dependent on Antahkaran but consciousness is not. The existence and function of Chidabhas depends on the mind. When the mind sleeps, the Chidabhas sleeps. Chidabhas and the mind exist together. Chidabhas (jiva – the lower self) is reflected consciousness. Pure consciousness (Atman) is the witness. The witness and jiva are always everywhere, but jiva is ignorant of the truth. Chidabhas moves and undergoes changes, but the witness (Atman) does not move or change.
Brain waves are generated when you are awake, dreaming, and in deep sleep, and these are of different frequencies. An enlightened person utilizes their brain power to the maximum capacity. All the brain waves in such a person are integrated with functioning of the deep inner Self, resulting in peak performance. The only difference between an enlightened person and an unenlightened person is the extent to which the reflector is functioning. The reflector is Antahkaran, which works with the brain, and it reflects the Atman. The brain of an ant or cat is not capable of reflecting the full value of Atman. In humans, if the brain is stressed and not functioning at peak performance, the reflection is muddled and the totality of Atman is not reflected. Meditation purifies the mind, relieves stress, and settles the mind in Atman. The mind settled in Atman is free and has no obstructions.
Humans are a highly evolved species. We have free will. But when we abuse our free will and act against the laws of nature, the result is misery and suffering. Until one finds the peace and bliss inside themselves – the true nature of Atman, one will go through the cycles of birth and death. Once they find that peace and bliss inside themselves, and act in accordance with the laws of nature, then even if life continues with its ups and downs, deep within they will have bliss and will not be affected by what is happening on the outside.
“The real purpose of life is to know yourself. If you do not know the real ‘I’ – the Atman, which is the source of all the laws of nature, then you defy the laws of nature, bringing about different concepts and leading to misery and suffering. The small ‘i’ – the lower self, the jiva, causes problems due to ignorance of the totality. The totality is transcendental and beyond the mind and body, and is realised by Meditation and proper knowledge of consciousness. When you know the real ‘I’, you understand the laws of nature and you flow with that nature and lead a blissful, peaceful life,” says Dr Sharma.
[Stay tuned for the second part of the interview]