It used to be thought, up to about 1920, that all physical effects could be accurately predicted if there was enough evidence. Even scientists believed this. But it is now realized that the evidence can never be completely specified, because the system cannot be completely isolated, and even if it were, one cannot make the calculations. The so-called ‘Three Body Problem’ shows that in principle it is impossible to calculate the relative effects of gravitational attraction on just three bodies falling freely in space. In practice, it is impossible to set up the equation for a pin-table, let alone solve it. But the general public continued to believe in the possibility of absolute precision.
The yogic conception is: not cause-and-effect, but means-and-ends.
Look first at cause and effect. In the mediaeval analysis, for some effect like pushing a coin along a table, there were two causes: first was the principle, the causa causans or ‘causing cause’ which would be the finger of the pusher. Then there were innumerable supporting causes, causa sine qua non ’cause without which not (that effect).’ These would include the smoothness of the table-top, the friction between table and coin, the stability of the table, the weight of both table and coin, the air and other factors necessary for the life of the man, and so on and so on. It was realized that the list would be endless. There could never be absolute precision. In fact, causa sine qua non was the whole universe, and shot through with the colour of God’s purpose.
But in sceptical 19 Century physics the whole process had no meaning. Slight variations in one cause would produce a change in the effect, but that would have no significance; it would just happen.
Entirely different is the yogic description of the world-process, which is in terms of means and ends. The universe is the means, and there are two purposes – to give experience to man and other beings, and second to give liberation from itself. The regularities of the world, described by science as cause and effect, are in fact an order imposed by the cosmic intelligence for its purposes. The laws of nature (as yet incompletely known).
© Trevor Leggett