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Friday, September 25, 2015

Catching Train at Platform 9&3/4

By Swami Yogatmananda

Humans have a tremendous attraction for the mysterious. We all keep imagining the world that lies beyond ‘this world’ – i.e., the world which we can grasp and measure by our senses. Of course, we are conscious of a lot of things that elude the senses. For example, we all are conscious of beauty, joy, wonder, love, peace as well as their opposites. And of course, the most important and constantly experienced, yet most inexplicable phenomenon of ‘I’! But none of these can be precisely presented in terms of mathematical measurements or logical constructs. The expressions of these emotions can be understood as brain-functions and can thus be reduced to mathematical terms, but not the emotions themselves. The spiritual urge in us therefore wants to go beyond the boundaries of reason, which is truncated by the limits of whole numbers. Mathematical logic, which is also related to set theory, has to work within the whole-number frame-work: we cannot conceive of a set having 5&7/10 objects; it has to have either 5 objects or 6, but not ‘in between’. In arriving at a conclusion using formal logic, we have to go step 1->step 2 ->. . . .  If, for simplification, we put a step between steps 1 & 2, then that becomes step 2 and what was earlier called step 2 becomes step 3. Absolutely no possibility of having step # 1&1/2!

But suppose we can sharpen our basic faculties and are able to actually conceive a logical system that goes in between?

The whole scenario is then changed! The science, logic, philosophy cannot understand it; but the meditative sages from all parts of earth can experience it; even the fiction-writers and poets have vastly used this idea at all times. The most popular contemporary fiction Harry Potter highlights it by making Harry catch the train to go to wizard-school from a regular train station, but not at the regular platform. He had to catch it at platform 9 & ¾! No person in our world (what the book calls as ‘Muggle world’) can accept the idea. ‘There is platform 9 and there is platform 10 – platform 9 & ¾ is insanity. Pure nonsense’.

But actually, it not only is not meaningless, but imparts true meaning to 9 & 10, by bringing in the continuity. Look at our consciousness – it has continuity. We intuitively know that ‘now & then’, ‘here & there’ are connected by a continuum. It is this continuity that makes us recognize our friend even after a long time and changed appearance, feel the sameness in the cup that we have been sipping coffee from for a year and be the same fan of the same Red Sox for decades. But try to express this continuity in the ‘Muggle logic’ – it all becomes fragmented like cookie-dough into cookies.

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