Science of the Absolute Chapter 10 - Epilogue

 
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AN INTEGRATED SCIENCE OF THE ABSOLUTE

 

 

10. EMANCIPATION

 

EPILOGUE

"Man is born free but is everywhere in chains." This sentence of Rousseau refers to the overall human predicament into which the subject of Nirvana is naturally to be fitted. We have already considered in the Prologue the implications of this chapter in terms of the Superman in the context of eschatology commonly associated with the release implied in Nirvana.

 

Man has to gain his happiness through freedom. This is not merely physical freedom but a freedom applying to the human spirit with all its hopes and aspirations. As in the case of physical strength or ability, here one thinks of more inward qualities such as bravery or firmness, which, at higher levels of life, lead to freedom understood in terms of intelligence or right conviction about the Self or reality treated as a whole. Bread and freedom mark the extreme limits of this kind of liberty and within this range the human spirit finds it possible to strive for full happiness. From the labours of a Hercules to the modern cosmonaut, we can think of different degrees of Supermen who gained the freedom they sought. Film stars also have their own sense of freedom or happiness involved in their roles and careers, as also sportsmen and heroes and heroines of various walks of life. In times of war or even peace, soldiers can also attain the freedom they seek. We can grade all of these according to their intentions and the purity of their motives. This chapter deals with the over-all purposes of human life in this sense. When they are treated together under the overall caption of Nirvana we are enabled to rightly appraise the scope of this chapter as Narayana Guru wants it to be understood. Because his own background was essentially Vedantic and Indian, the terms he uses most naturally call up the familiar pattern of behaviour known in the context of Indian spirituality. In this context the tyagi (relinquisher) or the sannyasin (renouncer), represent the culminating models of a purposeful and happy life



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In the same way as the Yogi of the previous chapter referred to a type of contemplative, here too, the person who seeks ultimate happiness through the release meant in this chapter is a sannyasin. He is characterized as having no fixed home or particular profession and does not even try to gain a livelihood. The begging bowl is a characteristic feature of this absolutist pattern of behaviour, whereby one has decided to be independent of social and even religious conventions and obligations. Just as professional sportsmen, film stars or even cosmonauts can be graded according to their lucrative motives, the sannyasin, tyagi or jivanmukta are also seen to be graded by Narayana Guru in this chapter. He places them under six grades (four qualified and two unqualified), arranged with reference to a central norm, each considered as representing possible degrees of positive and negative variation. The central representative type is mentioned in the fifth verse.

 

Neutrality can be further accentuated and also the nature of a final release without reference to any of these six types, as Narayana Guru shows in the last two verses of this chapter. Thus the whole chapter concerns itself with a superior person who is wholeheartedly determined to strive for final spiritual release regardless of whether his motives are still questionable or not. This wholeheartedness must necessarily imply its own intellectual counterpart of conviction. In the context of this work as a whole such a conviction cannot be any other than what could be expressed by the great Upanishadic dictum, "I am the Absolute" (aham-brahma-asmi).



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One might look out of the wrong end or the right end of a telescope, but either option is possible only to a person interested in using telescopes seriously or in fun. Narayana Guru does not judge any of these types in order to commend or condemn them. The absolutist outlook is not compatible with the mean spirit of judging others and thus getting judged oneself. What matters is the wisdom involved. Personal preferences to choose one or another type of Nirvana is left for the individual to decide. However, intentions certainly count in compromising or purifying wisdom and hence the reference in this chapter to a type of release called "doubly impure" (asuddha-suddha) along with its counterpart type on the positive side wherein the release is conceived on pure mathematical terms and is called "doubly pure" (suddha-suddha). Both types conform to the same structural requirements of treating the subject of this chapter in an integrated form with the rest of the work. Even in the first chapter, Isvara (the Lord) resembles a mathematician in the first few verses and is compared with a sprouting seed in the last verse. Here too, for the requirements of completing the garland, Narayana Guru reverses the order when he refers to the representative types of knowers of the Absolute, by putting actualities first and abstractions last. Both however belong to the same general context of the Absolute.

 

Life beyond death is not directly referred to by Narayana Guru. When, however as Bergson put it, "the universe is a machine for the making of Gods," the perfection implied in the most general and abstract of such products is at the last limit of their possibility as seen enumerated in this chapter. It is also possible to think of a superior man who wants only death to occur so that he can enter into the neutrality of the Absolute. As Alexis Carrel put it, there is a super-science belonging to the daring super-man of the future (see p.1136 above).



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In every instance the reciprocal or ambivalent tendencies, factors, and even pure functions are within the scope of this chapter. It is necessary to imagine here a full cancellation of counterparts. There is an equality of status between the counterparts, making this cancellation complete in each of the instances involved.

 

When impure motives are removed the transparent content of the Self must have an equal status in every single case. Conversely when axiomatic thinking is carried too far some kind of normalizing correction is again called for, in principle, to bring the man of Nirvana within the natural scope of a really living person. The two kinds of Nirvana (one pure and the other impure) are both held together by a neutral notion of Nirvana. This does not basically violate the unity of the subject matter.

 

1. THE TWO BRAHMANS INVOLVED IN EVERY STATE OF NIRVANA

In this chapter we find a graded series of six types of jivanmuktas (men liberated while still alive). They are enumerated according to different degrees of purity, strength, wholeheartedness and certitude of the wisdom of the Absolute. There are also two sets with an ambivalent polarity to be presupposed in the gradation and classification of these six representatives of finalized knowers of the Absolute. The gradations also involve degrees of experimental actuality or axiomatic virtuality. Each representative finds his correct structural position in these ten verses within the fourfold reference to which each is subjected as representing a stable pattern of behaviour as well as a recognizable type of understanding of the Absolute.



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Before we come to the examination of each of these types in the central verses of the chapter, we have to refer first of all to a problem that has troubled teachers of Vedanta from the earliest times. On page 771 above, we have quoted a paragraph showing the alternative positions regarding the importance of a higher Brahman and a lower Brahman. Ancient sages (rishis) like Audulomi say, "it (the Self) has only the characteristic of vital consciousness (caitanya)." Jaimini says, "the soul consists of exalted qualities". Badarayana favours a combination of both these positions. Jaimini also points out that after death the soul goes from ''the lower Brahman to the higher Brahman". Badari, whom Sankara agrees with, says, "it repairs to the lower Brahman only." There is also reference to the duality between the individual and the supreme Self. This has troubled Vedantins from time immemorial. We also have the names of ancient sages like Asmarathya, who stood for a difference-non-difference principle (bhedabhedavada), and Kacakritsna, who stood for absolute non-difference between the individual Self and the Absolute (Brahman).

 

Sankara upholds the claims of the higher Brahman. and later important commentators on Vedanta, like Ramanuja, Madhva, Nimbarka, Vallabha, and others take positions admitting of an either-or a both-together position with various degrees of duality or unity between them. This is all too complicated for us to go into detail, and we only make a passing reference to it.



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This kind of swaying from one side of the road to the other has been a source of disturbance and doubt in the course of Vedantic speculation about the Absolute. Narayana Guru's graded examination of six representative types of jivanmuktas is meant to settle this dispute without violating the methodological and epistemological requirements of a structurally integrated Science of the Absolute. Each type represents in itself an equilibrium, stability, strength, purity or certitude, all belonging together without contradiction and always referable to a pure vertical parameter where all variations can be considered equally justifiable, valid and permissible. This difficult task is accomplished by adhering to a uniform methodology and epistemology throughout the work. The justification therefore lies in the principle of integration on which the whole work is based It does not lie merely within the specific limits of this final chapter. The holding of the two aspects of the Absolute together when treated as a means to salvation, but showing a unified treatment running throughout, when judged by its end result, has also been underlined in the Bhagavad Gita (V.4-5) in a similar fashion. There the disciplines of Samkhya and Yoga are unitively treated as belonging to the same overall frame of reference. (1)
 
There are two texts in the Upanishads which are particularly interesting in connection with the dual factors that are to be cancelled out in the context of Upanishadic thought. The cancellation of the counterparts is also most directly evident in the quotations found in some of the "Yoga Upanishads". In the "Dhyanabindu Upanishad" we read:

" The tree is with parts and its shadow is without parts but with and without parts, Atman exists everywhere." (2)

Here the structure is very evident. The shadow of the tree and the tree itself represent the lower and higher Brahman (the Absolute). Another reference in the same context is found in the Mandalabrahmana Upanishad (II) where the counterparts are unitively brought together. We read:
 
"Having given up both bhava and abhava, one becomes a jivanmukta by leaving off again in all states jnana (wisdom) and jneya (object of wisdom), dhyana (meditation) and jnyeya (object of meditation), laksya (the aim) and alaksya (non-aim), drisya (the visible) and adrisya (the non-visible) and uha (reasoning) and apoha (negative reasoning). He who knows this knows all." (3)

 
There is still another favourite analogy of two special pieces of sacrificial wood called arani. In the Dhyanabindu Upanishad we read the following:

"Having made Atman as the (lower) arani (sacrificial wood) and pranava as the upper arani, one should see the God in secret through the practice of churning which is dhyana (meditation)." (4)



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The duality of ends and means is abolished together with the imaginary duality between the higher and the lower Absolutes. We reproduce below two other interesting quotations from the Upanishads. The first is from the "Brihadaranyaka Upanishad" (II.l.15-20):

"Ajatasatru said: "Verily it is contrary to the course of things that a Brahmin should come to a Kshatriya, thinking: "He will tell me Brahma". However, I shall cause you to know him clearly.
 
He took him by the hand and rose. The two went up to a man who was asleep. They addressed him with these words: 'Thou great, white-robed king Soma!' He did not rise. He (i.e. Ajatasatru) woke him by rubbing him with his hand. That one arose.
 
Ajatasatru said: 'When this man fell asleep thus, where then was the person who consists of intelligence (vijnana)?, Whence did he thus come back?

And this also Gargya did not know.

Ajatasatru said: 'When this man has fallen asleep thus, then the person who consists of intelligence, having by his intelligence taken to himself the intelligence of these senses (prana), rests in that place which is the space within the heart. When that person restrains the senses, that person is said to be asleep. Then the breath is restrained. The voice is restrained. The eye is restrained. The ear is restrained. The mind is restrained.

When he goes to sleep, these worlds are his. Then be becomes a great kind, as it were. Then he becomes a great Brahman, as it were. He enters the high and the low, as it were. As a great king, taking with him his people, moves around in his own country as he pleases, even so here this one, taking with him his senses, moves around in his own body (sarira), as he pleases.

Now when one falls sound asleep (susupta), when one knows nothing whatsoever, having crept out through the seventy-two thousand channels called hita, which lead from the heart to the pericardium, one rests in the pericardium. Verily, as a youth or a great king or a great Brahman might rest when he has reached the summit of bliss, so this one now rests.
 
As a spider might come out with his thread, as small sparks come forth from the fire, even so from this Soul come forth all vital energies (prana), all worlds, all gods, all beings. The mystic meaning thereof is "the Real of the real" (satyasya satya). Vital energies, verily, are the real. He is their Real." (5)



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In the same Upanishad (II.4.14) we read:

"For where there is a duality (dvaita), as it were (iva) there one sees another; there one smells another; there one hears another; there one speaks to another; there one thinks of another; there one understands another. Where, verily, everything has become just one's own Self , then whereby and whom would one see? Then whereby and whom would one see? Then whereby and whom would one hear? Then whereby and to whom would one speak? Then whereby and on whom would one think? Then whereby and whom would one understand? Whereby would one understand him by whom one understands this All? Lo, whereby would one understand the understander?" (6)

 
When read together these quotations not only reveal the structural levels within the same Absolute, but also underline the fact of the absolute unity of the Absolute in spite of the structural difference between them. In the context of Chinese Buddhism we are quoting this interesting piece from Huang Po. As we shall see the underlying structuralism is identical with that of the Upanishads:

"That Dharma was the wordless Dharma and that Buddha was the intangible Buddha, since they were in fact that Pure Mind which is the source of all things. This is the only truth; all else is false. Prajna is wisdom; wisdom is the formless original mind-Source .... Nothing is born, nothing is destroyed. Away with your dualism, your likes and dislikes. Every single thing is just the One Mind. When you have perceived this, you will have mounted the Chariot of the Buddhas" (7)



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As we have explained throughout the present work the structural implications of the Absolute were merely meant to serve as schematic or linguistic reference to the neutral Absolute, which is neither a concept nor a percept. The schematismus of Kant is a combination of intelligible categories and visible forms, and when names and form are thus juxtaposed they cancel themselves out into a neutral and normative Absolute. With this as a reference it is, however, also permissible to speak of polarized variations of a plus or minus order along a pure logical parameter linking the whole series.

 

2. POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE LIMITING TYPES

A modern man examining the descriptions of the two limiting types included in the present chapter might consider them somewhat abnormal, eccentric or exaggerated. This is because of the accentuation of realistic or pure and abstract characteristics that are mentioned. Here we have to remember that the scientific attitude cannot have any personal prejudice. After normative knowledge has been presented, the play of personal preferences can be allowed to everyone. It is therefore a rather striking peculiarity in the present chapter that Narayana Guru gives a place to a man whom he classified as an impure-impure representative of Nirvana. He goes even so far in his commentary to say that such a doubly impure person can be pushed to the very limits of tolerance for inclusion.



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He describes him as atyanta asuddha (extremely impure). This shows that he has no intention to take the side of the man who might be considered bad or evil by ordinary conventional moralists. By including this type, Narayana Guru directly recognizes some value even in persons of very low conventional morality.

 

Excessive asceticism can similarly indicate a form of self-torture which when attained marks the other limiting instance known to tragedy. This is a type of martyrdom known more to the East rather than the West. Indian yogis have immolated themselves in the market place to prove how lightly they considered their personal lives. Self-immolation of this type is a form of homicidal glory touching the negative axis within the amplitude of the tragic movement of absolutist life. The same tragic movement, although expressed differently, is also found in Greek tragedy as we have pointed out in the Prologue of this chapter.

 

Narayana Guru, in this chapter, does not envisage such extreme or freak instances, but with a correct scientific attitude, requires one to mark out clearly the positive and negative limits implied in the situation properly belonging to Nirvana. When treating of such a subject in the context of India it is natural to think of the various forms of renouncers, fakirs and holy men, as well other religious or semi-religious types where criminal and anti-social tendencies might sometimes be found for inclusion.

 

Even outright charlatans can be accommodated. They exist in every country and are not rare phenomena, The sannyasins (renouncers) of India avowedly follow a way of life dedicated to the Absolute. Still there might be among them persons whose interests are not yet fully directed towards the Kingdom of God.



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As Ramakrishna once said, there are those, who fly high but like the vulture have their eyes fixed on some carrion flesh lying in a dung heap. The height to which the vulture flies qualifies it in one way, but its low interest disqualifies it in another way.

 

Thus, it must be supposed, that even when legitimately considered bad or evil by conventional moralists, persons included as types in this chapter still fulfill, by some personal quality, an essential requirement necessary for Nirvana. The tragic touch is interesting in. itself and even when the sannyasin has wrong interests for the time being, like the man who might be looking through the telescope from the wrong end, it is still possible that he might be quickly converted and admitted into the hall where persons of higher spirituality are seated. His consent to turn the telescope the right way is all that is involved in his conversion. Because such a conversion has not taken place, and his intention to look rightly at values in life is not presupposed, he is like a person waiting in an anteroom in a government office, who has not yet been given even a form of application for his admission, but who might ask for it at any time. The impure-pure type of person in the context of Nirvana would thus be one who has taken the initiative to ask for an application form. His attention to affiliate himself to the context of the absolutist life has become evident. The intentionality is thus what qualifies him, while the absence of this gives an impure-impure status to his fellow contemplative of Verse 4.

 

The other positive limiting case is that of a superlatively pure man of spiritual attainment, whose consciousness has no reference to horizontal factors at all. His position is on the positive vertical scale of spiritual values and reaches a pure and almost mathematical limit.



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For all purposes he might be mistaken for a dead or dying man. Here we have to explain a favourite Vedantic analogy of the burnt seed which cannot sprout again. The seed is not totally destroyed and its potency is only abolished to the extent of eliminating the possibility of sprouting again. In other words pure vitalistic tendencies which do not imply the accompaniment of their horizontal counterparts are alone meant to be abolished by the burnt state of the seed. In the various lower types of spirituality this seed retains different degrees of fecundity depending on the possibility of horizontal tendencies asserting themselves again when the seed is only partially burnt. When such a possibility is abolished by more positive verticalization, the status of a burnt seed intended by the analogy is attained. The language. of structuralism helps us to clarify implications which are otherwise very cryptic or esoteric in character. In Chapter XX of the "Tao Te Khing", Lao Tzu describes the absolutist sage or man of Tao. This type of human approximates to the requirements of the limiting positive type. We read as follows:

"The multitude of men look satisfied and pleased as if enjoying a full banquet, as if mounted on a tower in spring. I alone seem listless and still, my desires have as yet given no indication of their presence. I am like an infant which has not yet smiled. I look dejected and forlorn, as if I had no home to go to. The multitude of men all have enough and to spare. I alone seem to have lost everything. My mind is that of a stupid man; I am in a state of chaos.

Ordinary men look bright and intelligent, while I alone seem to be benighted. They look full of discrimination while I alone am dull and confused. I seem to be carried about as on the sea, drifting as if I had nowhere to rest. All men have their spheres of action, while I alone seem dull and incapable, like a rude borderer. (Thus) I alone am different from other men, but I value the nursing-mother (the Tao)." (8)



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Note here that the introverted subjectivity here still accommodates items of universal concrete value.
 
The state intended to be marked by the reference to the burnt seed analogy is purer than this.
 
Such a man of perfection need not be considered a model for emulation on the part of all aspirants in contemplative life. Each person chooses what he can normally attain after reaching the previous type in this scale of spiritual attainment. An adolescent can normally aspire to fit into a Herculean type of superman, while a mature man preparing himself to go beyond the present life to any future state might find it more interesting to think of thinner purer or the superior limit of purity in the Absolute. A Science of the Absolute is only interested in stating all the possibilities without favouring any of them.
 
We have now to come to a clear understanding of the positive and negative limiting types applicable to the norm of the purposeful life implied in this chapter. The extremely negative type is recognized by Narayana Guru in his commentary, as one who prefers psychic powers (siddhis) to being directly interested in salvation (mukti).



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These siddhis can be thought of under three different perspectives. First of all there are the eight aisvaryas, referred to as anima (capacity of attaining minute or atomic size), mahima (capacity of attaining infinite largeness), laghima (capacity of attaining to lightness), garima (capacity of attaining to great heaviness), prakamya (the power to manifest oneself anywhere), isitva (over-lordship, i.e. the power to dominate others), vasitva (the power to make people take one's side), and pranti (the full attainment of ends of intentions). At other times these siddhis refer to such factors as clairvoyance, clairaudience, telepathy, prognostication, etc. They are basically parapsychological powers, beyond the frontiers of the rational mind. Miscellaneous miracles are also said to be performed by yogis and ordinary magicians. Sankara often refers to the existence of such magicians or persons with semi-divine powers. Rope tricks and juggling have an interest in the Indian religious context, whether they be considered strictly scientific or not. Even in the West, literature on psychic occurrences refer to hallucinations, hypnotic trances, water divining, E.S.P., and even materialization. The empirical status at least of all these is not beyond question.
 
 
Contemplative values must necessarily belong to a context where mind and matter enter together as factors capable of mixing more intimately than in the context of the rigid impenetrability of matter more acceptable to commonsense. What is called le monde affiné (the refined world) is where mind and matter participate in a more fluid manner as a flux in the proper verticalized view of the universe.

 

It is therefore possible even for a modern man to imagine the possibility of siddhis. Whatever the epistemological status of these siddhis may be, they do not directly concern the spiritual progress of those desirous of emancipation in the sense intended by Narayana Guru. He takes care to clarify this, fully supported by other authorities, in his commentary to Verse 4.



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3. A NORMALIZED VERSION OF NIRVANA

Having examined the limiting or extreme instances we now pass on to the consideration of the normalized version of Nirvana. This represents the central or neutral attitude proper to the representative absolutist of this chapter who may set the standard while all others are only eccentric or abnormal variations, however valuable in themselves. Their superiority or inferiority reveal the overall context they can be fitted into for purposes of nomenclature and graded recognition. This is necessary, but the central or neutral representative is always most important to keep in mind.

 

When we know a person by name and also recognize him as one seen before, the name and form together yield a double certitude or apodictic conviction. Grading and naming the types reviewed and labeled here give us a basis for further elaboration and study. This study can be pushed to any limit when space and leisure permit. Narayana Guru is content to make a skeleton outline only, but he has indicated in his own commentary how further elaborations might be made. He has relied on the Bhagavad Gita for this purpose.



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We can think however of other texts well known in the West. Dante's "Divine Comedy" has an eschatological gradation based on personal value factors. This is intended to be analytically presented under the labels of a vertical series of value worlds ranging from Inferno through Purgatory and finally to Paradise, each circle representing a pit, an abyss or an elevated heaven. Without entering into the detailed structure of such a work let us instead examine the 18 verses found in Chapter II of the Bhagavad Gita which, according to Narayana Guru, answer to his own view of a normalized man of Nirvana. The verses are 11. 55 to 7:

"When one banishes all desires that enter the mind 0 Partha (Arjuna), satisfied in the Self by the Self alone, then he is said to be one of well-founded reason.

He whose mind is unaffected by mishaps, who on happy occasions too evinces no interest, rising above attachment, anxiety or anger, such a sage-recluse is said to be of well-founded reason.

He who remains in all cases unattached on gaining such or such desirable-undesirable end, who neither welcomes (anything) nor rejects in anger, his reason is well-founded.

Again as when a tortoise retracts its limbs from all sides the senses are (withdrawn) from objects of sense-interest, his reason is well-founded.

Objective interests revert without the relish for them on starving the embodied (Of them) even the (residual) relish reverts on the One beyond being sighted.

Even with a man of wisdom, 0 Son of Kunti (Arjuna), in spite of his effort, excited sense-interests (can) forcibly distract the mind.



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Restraining every one of them he should rest unitively established, having Me for his Supreme (ideal). He in whom sense-interests are subdued, his reason is well-founded.

Meditating on objects of sense-interest, there is born in man an attachment for them; from attachment rises passion; in the fact of passion (frustrated) arises rage.

From rage is produced distortion of values, and from distortion of values memory-lapse, and from memory-lapse comes lose of reason, and from loss of reason he perishes.

But he whose Self is subdued, whose attachment and aversion are both within the sway of the Self, although his senses still move amidst sense-interests, he wends towards a state of spiritual clarity.

By spiritual clarity there takes place the effacement for him of all sufferings, and for one whose spirit has become lucid, very soon reason becomes properly founded.

For one unbalanced there can be no reason, Nor is there any creative-intuition for the unbalanced, and for one incapable of creative-intuition there could be no peace, and for the unpeaceful where could there be happiness?

Still moving amid sense-interests that (item) to which the mind submits, that very item draws away the reasoning as the wind does a ship on the waters.

Therefore, 0 Mighty-Armed (Arjuna), he whose senses have been in every way withdrawn from sense-interests, his reason is well-founded.

What is night for all creatures, the one of self- control keeps awake therein; wherein all creatures are wakeful, that is night for the sage-recluse who sees.



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Still getting filled, while fixed firm in mobility, the ocean remains; so too he into whom all interests enter, he attains to peace, not the craver of desires.

That man who, giving up all attachments, moves about desirelessly without owning anything and without egoism, he goes to peace.

This is the state of being in the Absolute (Brahman), 0 Partha (Arjuna), on reaching which one suffers from delusion no more.

Established in this at the very last moments of life, one reaches that final state of pure being (Nirvana) in the Absolute (Brahman)." (9)

 
It is important to note how there is always present here a cancellation of counterparts involved in almost all of the verses, whether implicitly or explicitly. While ordinary men would give to activities during the day an importance over the inactivity of life at night, in the case of the contemplative the position is reversed by a verticalization of values.
 
In the instance of the tortoise and the analogy of the ocean ever being filled by efferent rather than afferent impulses or interests prompting horizontalization, we have what one might call a verticalized form of plentitude of the spirit established in the peace and understanding of the Absolute. Other similar suggestions and implications can also be discovered. Even action is noted to be fully transcended, but accepted with a neutralized attitude which is motivated not by personal interests but rather by a sympathy that extends to all humanity and even to creatures beyond the limits of the human species.



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When thus balanced and universalized with its own wisdom- counterpart the representative contemplative is absolved from all possible blemish, blame or sin that might arise from good or bad actions. In the case of most human beings such an ideal is already a very laudable one to attain. The counterparts are here cancelled out completely into the neutrality of the Absolute and the effect of the Upanishadic dictum, "The knower of the Absolute becomes the Absolute," is fully accomplished.

 

4. THE NIRVANA THAT IS ONE DEGREE SUPERIOR

We must also observe the implicit difference between the normal man of Nirvana and the next superior man, so that the positive implications of transcending even good works will be justified. The magnetic needle may be said here to point definitely to the north without any hesitant vibrations. The "Yoga Upanishads" also refer to this subtle point of demarcation in the vertical axis, wherein even works become transcended. A true contemplative needs no goad for helping him in his spiritual progress. The joy of self-absorption carries him forward like a favourable wind towards final emancipation. There is no more stormy sea for him wherein he might be tossed and shipwrecked among the rocks. He has conquered himself one degree better than the man who is still open to temptations. Here again the counterparts have to be cancelled out even when applied to his relations with society. He should not hurt society, but society should not find him easily within its reach in case it wants to hurt him as it is well known in the historic cases of Socrates, Jesus, Hypatia, Bruno, Galileo and a host of others.



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All activities are transcended by one who places himself at a higher level than the point of intersection of two structural correlates. In the case of the prophet Muhammad, his story is typical of a hero who waged war against social forces opposed to his uncompromising love of the Absolute.

 

It is open to a mystic or a contemplative to go still higher in the scale of emancipation and become as pure and perfect as a mathematical God. He then leaves actualities far behind and himself has only an axiomatic or theoretical status. In the "Yoga Vasishta" and some of the "Yoga Upanishads" there are striking structural references to a pot or bucket immersed within the water of a well, with water inside and outside the bucket, and which, when pulled above water level, could be filled merely with air within and without. These two pots, one at the top and the other at the bottom, represent cancelable counterparts to which we can add the instance of a third bucket half-immersed in water, which would correctly answer to our normalized structural requirements. This will serve as a normal reference in the matter of clarifying grades of purity or impurity, activity or its transcendence, and the dominance of the horizontalized or the verticalized tendencies implied in each of the verses representing the graded types. Here in this section we are concerned with a type of person who is just above the zero point. He is known as the elect knower of the Absolute. Narayana Guru considered this type as fitting into the description of the contemplative found in the Bhagavad Gita (XII-13-19). See Verse 6 with commentary on pages 1220-1221.



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We can easily see in these verses in the Bhagavad Gita, from such terms as "forgiving" and "fully resolved", as well as from the love of purity and seclusion and wanting no fixed abode, that the type of contemplative under reference is one who has attained to a positive level. When this positive level has been noticed it is easy for us to appreciate the implications of the other remaining types, labeled or described with the attributes proper to each one.

 

5. OTHER PRECIOUS ESCHATOLOGICAL INDICATIONS

Before we can even approximately claim to have done justice to all important questions properly falling within the scope of this chapter there are many matters needing a short reference, as also many loose ends of questions already partially referred to which need to be gathered up and dealt with in order to complete our clarifications.

 

In the first place eschatology is the science of transcending the limits of this life or attaining to some kind of perfection within the limits of personal life. There are varieties of mukti (emancipation). Some of them are the videhamuktas (those who have emancipation only after death), sadyomukta (one who has immediate emancipation),and karmamukta (who has gradual emancipation).

There is also the question of the abolition of three kinds of karma (action) referring to the past, present and future. They are called prarabdha karma (action initiated in the past), sancita karma (accumulated store of action) and agami-karma (action with a teleological reference). Then there is the question of what happens to a man fallen from his spiritual ascent and whether the negative type of emancipation applicable to one of' inert or active temperament has any saving factor implied in it, or whether all such should perish by a stern law involving no pardon or grace.



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What is the principle that causes a person to be born with a superior status in his next life, if any? Is heredity always rigidly fixed in this matter and are its laws capable of adjustments? Is there a margin for the transformation that would convert or change men into Supermen by some process of evolution, and is such a transformation the same as the mechanistically conceived Darwinian evolutionary process? Is creative evolution possible for humanity?

 

Modern humanists like Julian Huxley also believe in an evolution combining mechanistic and creative forces operating together in the process. Religious evolutionists like Teilhard de Chardin have their own version of the process. Transcending good and evil within the limits of life or beyond life must have some theory of evolution implied in it. It is not easy to give all these matters the treatment they legitimately deserve and we can only attempt to discuss the implications of some of them found in the present text and in allied contemplative literature. The present text in its terminating verse suggests that the man of full emancipation does not come back. This evidently presupposes what is popularly and loosely referred to as the theory of reincarnation.

 

Without attempting to be systematic or orderly we shall touch upon some of the precious indications found in some of the Eastern wisdom books, beginning with those putting forward comprehensive theories and ending with more miscellaneous references which throw some sidelights on one or other particular aspect of such problems.



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I. THE SEVEN BHUMIKAS OF THE YOGA VASISHTA

The word bhumika means a contemplative grade in reality. According to the "Yoga Vasishta" the first bhumika is described as different from that of a person who has not desired liberation at all. The former is not included among the list of people who have attained any contemplation worthy of being included in the list. His state has been compared to that of a tortoise who, having burrowed a hole for itself in a sand dune within the reach of the advancing and receding waves, is ever caught in alternative states and does not escape the disturbance. The man of good aspirations and intentions by his gentle contemplative ways qualifies himself for the first bhumika. The seven bhumikas are as follows:

 

  1. Arya, a man of pure ways. (literally "noble").
  2. Vicara, ("questioning") one who is interested in learning from noble men all about wisdom. Such a type also avoids getting involved in egotistic and passionate events,.
  3. Asamsanga, (solitary) a man who stays, in the company of yogis and recluses, who himself cultivates meditative detachment thus leads a contemplative life continuing his researches into the nature of the Absolute.
  4. Svapna, ("dreaming") is different from the waking state, the world is now treated on a par with the dream world attained by the person in this state. This bhumika is normally attained by men who are reborn after the first three relativistic bhumikas have been crossed in a previous life, after an intermediate period of life in a world of heavenly values where usual enjoyments are also found.(1253)
  5. Sushuptapadam ("sleep-based") In this state the man becomes identified with true and pure existence. The visible world does not affect him, nor does any sense of duality. Even if he is active, he resembles a somnambulist.
  6. Turiya (the "fourth"). In this state opposites such as having form and not having form (rupa-arupa) are cancelled out and mental activities cease, and the person remains like a lamp in a picture, He resembles two pots, one above water and the other below the water.
  7. Videhamukta-avastha (state of incorporeal freedom). This is the ultimate state of all phenomenal becoming. It is not attained by thought nor word. Various names have been given to this state, such as Siva, Brahma, Vishnu, Time, Existent Object, Nothingness, etc.


By way of comparison with these seven bhumikas of the "Yoga Vasishta", we now quote the seven bhumikas outlined in the "Varaha Upanishad" (IV):

"In the seven bhumikas (or stages of development of wisdom) there are four kinds of jivanmuktas. Of these the first stage is subhechchha (good desire); the second is vicharana (inquiry); and the third is tanumanasi (or pertaining to the thinned mind); the fourth is sattvapatti (the attainment of sattva); the fifth is asamsakti (non-attachment); the sixth is the padarthabhavana (analysis of objects); and the seventh is the turiya (fourth or final stage)."



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The "Varaha Upanishad" continues, describing the various kinds of spiritual aspirants:

"One who functions in the (first) three bhumikas is called mumukshu; one who functions in the fourth bhumika is called a brahmavit; one who functions in the fifth bhumika is called a brahmavidvara; one who functions in the sixth bhumika is called a brahmavidvariya; and one in the seventh bhumika is called a brahmavidvarishta." (11)

 
We can see how Narayana Guru has apparently adhered to the structure found in the "Varaha Upanishad", with slight touching up here and there. There is a difference though, between his own definitions and those found in the "Yoga Vasishta". Narayana Guru does not put turiya outside the scope of jivanmukti. Between the third and fourth bhumikas there is no intervention of heaven, but a normalized two-sided status is given to the man of Nirvana. Finally, the possibility of evil in the context of the Absolute is more openly recognized by Narayana Guru.

 

II. REINCARNATION

We have already pointed out that it is Isvara (the Lord) who should be referred to as reincarnated. Since "mankind is made in the image and likeness of God". he participates in the same absolute substance. Both Isvara and mankind find their place in reference to the same vertical parameter, and there is a dichotomy or polarity between any two levels, one being positive and the other negative, like a broken magnet. When spirit assumes the adjuncts of matter or vice-versa, the two polarities persist inseparably together, alternately manifesting one or the other of these ambivalent features.



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This subtle mechanism is referred to in the Bhagavad Gita (XV.8-11):

"When the Lord takes a body and when He leaves it He takes these (mind and senses) and goes even as the wind gathering scents from their retreats.

Presiding over the ear, the eye and touch, taste and smell, and also the mind, this one avails himself of the values relating to the senses.

Whether departing, staying or experiencing, conditioned (as they are) by the modalities of nature, the foolish cannot see; the wisdom- eyed can see.

The yogis striving also perceive this One established in the Self; though striving, those yogis of imperfected Self, lacking wisdom, do not see this One." (12)

 
It is clear from the first words that it is the Lord that incarnates and disincarnates. In each case the subtle essences accompany the two movements. The complementary position is reflected in the ninth verse. The reciprocal concomitance of the positive and negative aspects is clearly implied in Verse 10.

 

In Verse 11 the paradox between striving yogis and wise yogis, both of whom have an implied reciprocity, cancelable into terms of final vision, are under reference. Thus there is a two-sided subtlety implied in the mechanism regulating the process of reincarnation.



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Any unilateral view of reincarnation is thus ruled out by the theory presented in the Bhagavad Gita. Both the "Yoga Vasishta" and the Bhagavad Gita assume that reincarnation takes place by the fully verticalized interest at the last moments of a dying person, when he cannot tell a lie to himself about what he deserves. A bee in a lotus flower crushed by an elephant becomes the elephant in its next birth according to the "Yoga Vasishta" because of the wholehearted attention focussed on the elephant by the bee at the point of death. In the Bhagavad Gita (VIII.9,10) we read the following;

"He who meditates on the Post-seer, the Ancient, the Ordainer, minuter than the atom, the Dispenser of all, of unthinkable nature, sun-coloured, beyond the darkness.

Who meditates at the time of departure with a steady mind possessed of devotion, as also of the strength that comes from yoga, well-fixing the life-breath between the eyebrows, reaches that supreme divine Person." (13)

 

III. THE REINCARNATION OF EVILDOERS

The Bhagavad Gita contains specific references to extreme evil doers and to persons who have fallen from Yoga. Neither of these types are doomed forever to an eternal hell, but are given the hopes of salvation if their spirits become oriented in a bipolar fashion to the supreme absolute Value. The Bhagavad Gita (IX.29-32) says:

"I regard all beings equally. To Me there is none hateful or dear. They however who worship with devotion, they are in Me and I too am in them.
 
Even if one of very evil actions should worship Me with a devotion exclusive of all else, he should be accounted to be good all the same merely by the fact that he has a properly settled determination.



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Instantaneously he becomes established in his own right nature and enters into eternal peace. Believe Me in all confidence, 0 Son of Kunti (Arjuna), that one affiliated to Me with fidelity knows no destruction.

They too who resort to Me for refuge, 0 Partha (Arjuna), whoever they might be, (whether) women, workers (sudras), as well as farmer-merchants (vaisyas) (all) of sinful origin, they too attain to the supreme goal." (14)

 
In respect of the rebirth of a person fallen from yoga in a previous birth, the Bhagavad Gita, without resorting to a theological divine grace enunciated as an eschatological law, says that once progress is made in terms of ascent in the vertical axis it is never again lost. One only has to begin all over again from the point attained in the previous birth. His birth will depend on what he basically deserves as the Bhagavad Gita points out in VI 40-42. The reference in Verse 41 which says "he is born into a house of the well-to-do," is only incidental in the law of reciprocal rewards. Each person can only receive what he deserves.



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IV. HEREDITARY BIRTH BY JATI OR CASTE

One often hears in India about the caste system which is also referred to in more sonorous terms as varnasramadharma (duties referring to race, colour or birth, or stages of discipleship or spiritual status called the four asramas. The varnas (castes) are also referred to as four. They are brahmin (priestly), kshattriya (warrior), vaisya (farmer-merchant) and sudra (workers). The stages of life (asramas) which are also four, should not be mixed up with the varnas. The latter are based on birth and there is a great deal of confusion about this subject. The Bhagavad Gita (IV.13) clarifies this matter when it says that the four castes have been created by the Absolute on the basis of the three gunas (nature modalities) and are compatible with the professions that match these inner modalities. The same verse says that such classifications are capable of being abolished altogether.

 

We know from common experience that four sons born to a brahmin may not be of the same psychological type. There is an actual outwardly recognizable type called "brahmin". Sankara talks about the bahya-brahmanatva or outer characteristics belonging to a brahmin, and says they need not all belong to the same type judged according to the gunas or occupations. A brahmin's son could be a good mechanic, and likewise a mechanic's son could even go beyond what is usually considered to be a brahmin´s role and become a great rishi (sage). When we think of the four classifications as belonging to inner dispositions that might be arranged on a vertical scale where values tally with personal interest, we get quite another picture of the scheme of the four main divisions of caste.

 

These basic four types (three classes of citizens and the sage-ruler) are also referred to in Plato's "Republic" (IV.441) and mark the points where necessary and contingent factors meet from opposite poles to determine the types and their positions in the vertical scale of values. Here the same law is operative as in the case of yogis and sinners referred to above.



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It is stated in the "Purusha Sukta" of the Veda that the brahmin arose from the mouth, the kshattriya from the arms, the vaisya from the hips, and the sudra from the thighs of the same cosmic man. Viewed as a structural gradation the theory of the four castes becomes understandable. Further elaboration on the same theory is found in the Bhagavad Gita (XVIII.40-41) where it shows that no heredity enters rigidly into it, but rather the modalities of nature.

 

Some hereditary considerations however can be thought of as being indirectly involved, in principle at least, and thus heredity need not be ruled out altogether. Family background counts even when police-constables have to be recruited. The Bhagavad Gita (XV.III.42-44) does not underline the hereditary factor but is content to say that the traits are svabhavajam (born out of ones own nature).In this way the rigidity of caste is abolished.

 

V. TRANSCENDING BIRTH AND REBIRTH

The theory of reincarnation is not a binding tenet or doctrine of Hindu religion. This is revealed by the fact that the guru of the Bhagavad Gita states that reincarnation applies only to the relativistic aspect of the phenomenal world. When properly affiliated to the Absolute, the question of reincarnation does not arise. This is categorically stated in the Bhagavad Gita VIII.16. The eternal life without rebirth which is part of the beliefs of the Semitic or prophetic religions is also found side by side with the theory of reincarnation and is applicable only to relativistic life in nature as stated in the Bhagavad Gita and Upanishads.



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From Paul Deussen's analysis of Vedantic eschatology we find that besides the way of the Gods (devayana) and the way of the ancestors (pitriyana) there is an absolutist absorption in which one attains to never-returning life eternal. Thus there is no clash of doctrine between Semitic and scientific religions when understood in both the relativistic and absolutist implications. Absorption is a bilateral cancellation of counterparts in the proper context of a Science of the Absolute.

 

Besides the "Yoga Vasishta", which we have quoted and whose grades of transcendent attainment bear a close resemblance to those enumerated by Narayana Guru, there are other sources, some of them outside Hinduism, such as Tibetan Buddhism, Zen Buddhism and Taoism where the same subject of Nirvana is presented in varied versions, but implying the same fundamental cancellation of counterparts. Milarepa was one of the greatest spiritual teachers connected with Tibetan Buddhism. Before entering fully into the complete absorption of Nirvana, Milarepa composed a series of religious-philosophical poems. In the one we are quoting in full, we see how he has passed beyond the duality of opposites. We quote this poem in full because of its beauty and relevance to this chapter:

"Obeisance to the honoured Feet of Marpa the Translator!
May I be far removed from arguing creeds and dogmas.
Ever since my Lord's Grace entered in my mind,
My mind hath never strayed seeking various distractions.
Accustomed long to contemplating Love and Pity,
I have forgot all difference between myself and others.



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Accustomed long to meditating on my Guru as enhaloed over my head,
I have forgot all those who rule by power and by prestige.
Accustomed long to meditating on my Guardian Gods
as from myself inseparable,
I have forgot the lowly fleshy form.
Accustomed long to meditating on the Whispered Chosen Truths,
I have forgot all that is said in written and in printed books.
Accustomed, as I've been, to the study of the Common Science,
Knowledge of erring Ignorance I've lost.
Accustomed, as I've been, to contemplating
The Three Bodies as inherent in myself,
I have forgot to think of hope and fear.
Accustomed, as I've been, to meditating
on this life and the future life as one,
I have forgot the dread of birth and death.
Accustomed long to studying, all by myself, mine own experiences,
I have forgot the need of seeking the opinions of friends and brethren.
Accustomed long to application of each new experience
to mine own growth spiritual,
I have forgot all creeds and dogmas.
Accustomed long to meditating on the Unborn,
the Indestructible, and the Unabiding
I have forgot all definitions of this or that particular Goal.
Accustomed long to meditating on all visible phenomena
as the Dharma Kaya,
I have forgot all mind-made meditations.



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Accustomed long to keep my mind in the Uncreated State of Freedom,
I have forgot conventional and artificial usages.
Accustomed long to humbleness, of body and of mind,
I have forgot the pride and haughty manner of the mighty.
Accustomed long to regard my fleshy body as my hermitage,
I have forgot the ease and comfort of retreats in monasteries.
Accustomed long to know the meaning of the Wordless,
I have forgot the way to trace the roots of verbs
and source of words and phrases;
May thou, 0 learned one,, trace out these things in standard books." (17)


 
Saraha was also a Mahayana Buddhist who lived in India about 850 AD. By way of contrast we quote a short part from his "Treasury of Songs":

"He who clings to the Void
And neglects Compassion,
Does not reach the highest stage.
But he who practices only Compassion
Does not gain release from toils of existence.
He, however, who is strong in practice of both,
Remains neither in Samsara nor in Nirvana."



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In Chinese Buddhism we have this fine reference to what nirvana is, in so far, as the Chinese Buddhists are always pointing out, as any description is at all possible. The following is from the Cheng-Tao Ke:
 
"Like the empty sky it has no boundaries,
Yet it is right in this place, ever profound and clear,
When you seek to know it, you cannot see it.
You cannot take hold of it,
But you cannot lose it.
In not being able to get it, you get it.
When you are silent, it speaks;
When you speak, it is silent.
The great gate is wide open to bestow alms,
And no crowd is blocking the way."


These are only a few of the many quotations that can be found in all the different schools of Buddhism. We have only quoted from them to show the similarity of thought between Buddhism and Vedanta.

 

In the "Yoga Upanishads" and in the general body of the major Upanishads there are some precious indications throwing valuable side lights on the subject. They are specially interesting to us in relation to our own structuralism. We have already referred on page 115 to the colour solid of the "Svetasvatara Upanishad", as well as the structuralism of the crystal found in Patanjali's "Yoga Sutras" (see pages 1120-1222).

 

Nirvana implies a process of a very subtle and pure variety of evolution. A Superman or even a God are its end results. This implies a kind of transcendence of good and bad which takes place along a vertical axis, or parameter. There is a lower level and a higher level necessarily implied in such a transcendence, whether in this life or in bridging the gulf between the present life and whatever comes after it.



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There is a very thin living link to be established between the life elements involved. Physics and metaphysics have to be reciprocally involved, within this bilateral linking factor. The heart, as the centre of all life in a physiological sense can have a negative pole, often referred to in Vedantic literature as the cavity of the heart. Its own positive pole or counterpart will be situated peripherally in the pericardium at a higher level in the vertical axis. The lower centre indicates any number of radiating lines or forces of tendencies which are called nadis (centres or channels of vitality). They are comparable to the legs that Einstein refers to in relation to his own structure of space.

 

In describing the spiritual effort that one has to make in transcending these levels, the Upanishads bring in the analogy of a horse that shakes off its loose hair. This is evidently a verticalized version of a pure act by which Nirvana is established in the heart of a yogi. Instead of referring to an Inferno and a Paradise far removed from each other in poetic imagination, we find here that everything takes place within the limits of the heart itself. Heaven and hell are both transcended by a superior kind of space that is both physical and metaphysical at once. Heaven and hell are brought as close together as possible within such a space which is itself independent of bigness or smallness, part or whole, far or near, gross, subtle one or many etc.



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The transition from this to the next world is also very delicately indicated in another analogy wherein the soul is compared to a caterpillar that tries to reach from the tip of a blade of grass to the tip of another blade above it. The point to be underlined here is that it is only after gaining a foothold on the upper tip that the caterpillar lets go its hold on the lower blade. At no time in the process of transcending is there loss of any hold altogether. The fear of death coming from such a possible entry into nothingness is minimized by this analogy.

 

Another favourite example of Vedanta is the spider that alternately projects its web and is capable of absorbing it within itself. The web is the horizontal structural version of the manifested world which is capable of being inside or outside the spider. A further example is the king and his retinue. The king retires into the palace with his courtiers having a virtual status within or comes out into the public hall where the same courtiers have a more positive structural relationship with him.

 

Another precious analogy which will be helpful in clarifying the transition from one life to another is that of the beehive. The queen bee goes first and the hive of workers and drones follow to the place where a new hive is to be established. The positive and negative factors of the Self are thus kept together in the process of transition as has already been suggested.

 

The familiar picture of an anthill where the snake sheds its skin and then leaves shows how the essential vertical element of life has nothing to do with its own horizontal counterpart.



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Another case is a big fish swimming gently in the flow of the stream without having to move its fins at all. This is meant to bring out the state of equilibrium implied in the notion of Nirvana. One of these applies to a Nirvana involving no long duration or effort. It is known as the path of vamadeva; one who only attained perfection after long and arduous periods of discipline. The other refers to the suka path of one who quickly attained perfection as being instructed by his own father, who was Vyasa, the author of the Bhagavad Gita. This is stated in the Yoga Vasishta and is meant to refer to a perfection that is attained in a comparatively short time.

 

As in the case of eternity and the moment, both these types of emancipation could be viewed under the perspective of an eternal moment. These two versions of the process of perfection can be dialectically treated together. The equilibrium, homogeneity, abolition of duality or ambivalence involved in the notion of Nirvana can be compared to the homeostasis of cybernetics, to thermodynamic equilibrium, or even to the electromagnetic homogeneity between waves and the field when treated unitively. A crystal and the mother liquid forming it belong together when the process involved is thought of as a reversible one. These and other structural implications are helpful for us to keep in mind in connection with this notion of the transcendence of Nirvana elaborated by us in our other writings or in parts of this present work. It is enough for us to recall them in summing up all such precious sidelights and indications here.



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6. CONCLUDING REMARKS

 

Nirvana has been compared to the extinction of a lamp when the oil has been spent. It has also been compared to "The dewdrop slipping into the shining sea". In the former example the positive and negative aspects referring to the vertical axis become equalized and the Self and the non-Self become absorbed in the Absolute. In the second analogy it is the horizontal expanse of the ocean into which the individual soul at any place on the vertical axis is absorbed or merged. To accommodate both these favourite examples that come to mind, we can think of the final implications of what is here called Nirvana, in a vertico- horizontal scheme of correlation.

 

Nirvana is a process in which two aspects of the same Self participate. If we are permitted to repeat what we have already said, the process can be compared to osmosis in biology, thermodynamic equilibrium in physics, or even to homeostasis in cybernetics. Biology speaks in terms of an ambivalence, but in the electromagnetic context we can more naturally think of positive and negative poles. We can also think of a simple magnetic needle which is moved up and down between the two poles, by which the compass will show north at the top and south at the bottom, while the needle would vibrate with uncertainty when passing the middle region. We can also think of an electric current as the basis of the magnet with two poles at opposite ends of a straight line having a central point.. The electric current is one, but is nominally referred to for purposes of nomenclature as plus or minus, from the plus or minus ends of the conductor.



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Modern developments in electromagnetics suggest to as a still more subtle and more general unified field of electromagnetic energy with its diffusion in space through waves that can travel with speeds approximating to the velocity of light. If we keep in mind these four grades of electromagnetic phenomena and try to build a structural unit involving them all, we can imagine them to be piled or placed one over the other. When we do this by schematic abstraction and generalization applied to the total situation, we can speak clearly of the four grades of polarities which express themselves together in the typical representatives of Nirvana who are referred to in this chapter for correct grading and naming.

 
The man of Nirvana is a living human being whose thought and behaviour can be observed or diagnosed for purposes of classification Activity, purity, joy and a complete cancellation of counterparts are the four grades of diagnostic characteristics outwardly visible or inwardly assumed in each type of Nirvana. Narayana Guru departs from both the positions of the "Yoga Vasishta" in order to adhere more strictly to the fourfold considerations just mentioned, and in order to respect the varieties and grades of possible dichotomy, polarity, ambivalence etc. In the fourth and purest of grounds there is no evidence of ambivalence at all, the counterparts being cancelled out into the perfect neutrality of the Absolute.

 
Such a neutrality is an inner state of mind to be understood by definition only. It belongs to the person of a complete and most superior kind of Self-absorption, mentioned as the last of the types it present graded series. The more simple instance of a man of Nirvana who, though less superior in the purity of his Self absorption combines in his self both the visible and intelligible aspects of Nirvana, is given a central position in the series for purposes of establishing a normative reference. Thus Narayana Guru respects the requirements of a structuralism that is based on a normative notion of the Absolute in order to give to the grades and varieties of Nirvana a unity of treatment as well as an integrated status. By doing so he also relates this chapter with the rest of the work.



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The normal type of a man of Nirvana who combines both action and wisdom is given his full place in the classification, while the general tendency in other classifications is to mention action and inaction as distinct paths. We see this in the classification of the seven bhumikas, classically understood in the "Yoga Upanishads" and "Yoga Vasishta". The perfect symmetry of the revised and rearranged classifications adopted here becomes clear when we keep in mind the fact that all variations are referable to a central normative type.

 
 
We now refer to the verses individually:
 

Verse 1. This verse divides Nirvana into two main classes without stressing the central normative class at all. The fusion of counterparts is so complete that the ambivalence is already supposed to be within the same Self without duality. One pole however can be darker than the other. Thus the twofold initial classification is justified as held together unitively. The reference to purity might imply either action or wisdom or both. The dark or impure side of Nirvana when it predominates indicates the presence of incipient memory factors (vasanas) implying a reference to the ego or the self in a narrow sense.



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Verse 2. The two broad divisions of the first verse are here subdivided into two categories, making four in all. These four have a very pronounced ambivalence between them. Structural requirements are fully respected by giving symmetrical status to the plus and minus sides referable to four points of the negative and positive sides of the vertical axis. The pure-impure type is generally omitted in other classifications as seen in the "Yoga Vasishta" which does not respect structural requirements to the same degree as here.

 
Verse 3. Before characterizing any of the negative grades mentioned here we now pass on to three grades that are to be placed at points higher than the superior grade of the plus side already mentioned. Each of these three grades, which are: elect, more elect and most elect, are sub-varieties under the extra-pure. Together with the plain pure variety there are thus four divisions in all on the plus side.
 
This gradation can be understood only if we think of an extrapolation of the superiority implied. The ambivalence of a magnet has a duality stronger than the nominal polarity of an electric current. The superiority here referred to is therefore to be looked upon as belonging to a subtler, more abstract and more generalized order than the ambivalence belonging to the context of the simple magnet. This same principle of extrapolation can be applied to the two other comparative and superlative degrees of purity in Nirvana.



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Verse 4. Here the impure varieties are characterized by the attributes proper to them. The one nearest to the norm placed at the centre of the vertical axis conforms to a type that is qualified by the intention of gaining liberation through wisdom. This is called the pure-impure. Inferior to this and away and below from the norm, but still placed on the vertical axis is the impure-impure which is still more perverted in its intentions. It is however included in the possible varieties of Nirvana because such a type, by its intensity and wholeheartedness of life urges, however perverted, is capable, on sudden correction, of catching up with superior types at some future date. As a Science of the Absolute cannot make a distinction between good and evil, the devil as it were is given his due.

 
Verse 5. Here we have the central and most normative type, as we have already pointed out. In principle it should be noted that although this type of Nirvana implies the continuation of natural or normal occupations necessary to life, they are supposed to be burnt out so that their non-intentionality or perversion of purpose will not have any ill effect on the person. He is not deliberately immoral yet he does not attach too much importance to conventional or social morality. He does all action according to the norm and standards of a good life found in the contemplative text books.
 
The word vidhivat (what is considered as right) is to be understood as also excluding whatever is harmful to humanity. Like the pot half- immersed in water, the structural position here is at the point of intersection of the correlates.



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Verse 6. The elect knower of the Absolute is one who has definitely transcended action. When he knows that the Absolute is all there is and that he has no other motive than to represent in himself the highest of absolute values for the emulation of all humanity, he becomes himself one of great price and does not have to perform any good works. His life on earth lasts as long as vital urges rising from past habits remain operative.

Verse 7. This verse represents a still higher type of Self-absorption where the counterparts belong to an order similar to the electric current in the above analogy. The duality between the Self and the non-Self lingers very faintly and nominally here in one and the same Self-consciousness as in the case of a sleeping man who has to be touched before he can respond. The absorption is here move complete than in the previous instance.
 
Here it is the inner enjoyment of the high value implied in the notion of the Absolute that serves as the diagnostic factor. The outer evidence of such enjoyment might be feeble in the eyes of an onlooker who is not conscious of the bliss of contemplation of the Absolute.



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Verse 8. This verse refers to the highest possible type of Nirvana where Self-absorption is so complete that it corresponds to a universe such as that of modern thermodynamics where both matter and energy are indistinguishable. Such a state is referred to as the turiya (absolute state) according to the classifications of the states of consciousness found in the "Mandukya Upanishad". There is no question here of even a nominal duality. Existence, subsistence and value merge into the same homogeneous matrix which is one alone without any second. Being and becoming are non-distinct in this state of consciousness. As photographic positives and negatives can exist together potentially in a raw film or as when under-focussing and over-focussing can reveal a central truth which is neither one nor the other; so too all relations and relata exist within such a consciousness as in a liquid where all crystals have been fully dissolved.
 
We attain here to the world called le monde affiné (the refined world) as opposed to the world that is known as 'classical' or 'radical'. All visible and intelligible things are put as it were into the melting pot. As a pinch of salt in the ocean cannot be thought of as a limited entity in time and space, so, too the personal individuality of the contemplative if any, is altogether lost for ever within the expanse or minuteness of such an over-refined world. Such a world can even be called a tremendous mystery.

 
Verse 9. Verses 9 and 10 belong together and are evidently meant to serve as the grand summing up of the whole of this work. This ninth verse underlines the verity that the world as really non-existent needs no abolishing by special contemplative effort. The horizontal axis thus stands self-abolished. The vertical, which refers directly both to the plus and minus aspects of the Self, attains to unity by double negation of the negative and by the double assertion of the positive and thus abolishes all vestiges of duality between them. When once such a unitive understanding is established duality cannot assert itself any more. This state requires no effort and takes place when neither the negative nor the positive dominates the other in a normal state of consciousness. Certitude in respect of this normality is all that is needed.



Verse 10. The same truth is here repeated not with a contemplative in mind but an referring to a well-instructed man called vidvan. He also is capable of the same certitude as the contemplative. As the Darsana Mala pertains to the context of instruction and learning it is but natural that this terminating verse should put the central teaching as a whole in a form natural to it. Narayana Guru has taken care to explain at the end of his commentary the implications of every term as a means to clarify the notion of the normative Absolute. Duality is the one overall error or prejudice to be abolished through certitude on the part of a person who has gained a knowledge of this Science of the Absolute.

 


FOOTNOTES

[1] See our commentary in Bhagavad Gita p.261

 

[2] Aiyar, p.202.

 

[3] "Thirty Minor Upanishads" p.249

 

[4] ibid. p.303

 

[5] Hume, p.95

 

[6] Hume, pp.101-102

 

[7] J. Blofeld (trans.), "The Zen Teaching of Huang Po: On the Transmission of the Mind", London, 1959, p.44.

 

[8] Legge, pp.62-63. "The Texts of Taoism Vol. l: The Tao Teh Khing",

 

[9] Bhagavad Gita,pp.163-173.

 

[10] Aiyar, p.232. (1967 ad., p477)

 

[11] Aiyar, p.233 (1967 ed.p.478)

 

[12] Bhagavad Gita, pp.603-606.

 

[13] Bhagavad Gita, p,364.

 

[14] Bhagavad Gita, pp.408-411

 

[15] Deussen, Phil. Up., pp.408-412

 

[16] The translator, in a footnote, says: "Or, "That which hath neither commencement, nor negation, nor place"; that is, Nirvana".

 

[17] W. Evans-Wentz, "Tibet’s Great Yogi Milarepa",Oxford,1958, pp. 245-247

 

[18] B.Conze (trans.), "Buddhist Scriptures", Penguin ed., London,1960, p.180

 

[19] A.Watts, "The Way of Zen", Vintage pbk. Ed., New York, 1957, p.145