Science of the Absolute Chapter 10 - Prologue

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AN INTEGRATED SCIENCE OF THE ABSOLUTE

 

10. EMANCIPATION

 

PROLOGUE

A person can hope to attain the perfection represented by God in the same way as God is the Creator of Nature and Humanity. In the first chapter we were concerned with the latter possibility. In this chapter we are concerned with the converse position. Nietzsche's Superman can be related to the cosmos as its dialectical counterpart. Both the good and evil of the world refer to the spirit of such a Superman, aspiring or attaining to degrees of probable or possible perfection or self-absorption belonging to God. Such a Superman can also be merely a strong, heroic or even a tragic and generous human individual. His spirit or soul can be thought of as linking human existence here with its own proper hopes and aspirations in the hereafter.

 

Whether the Superman be looked upon as God or as man there is an interchangeable normative notion of the Absolute in him as a high value. This value is conferred on him by a superior understanding whereby he is able to identify himself with the totality of fact, truth or value represented by the Absolute. His innermost Self in this sense can be equated to the central normative absolute Self. When this notion is accepted as a reference for the discussion of the various possible grades of perfection that are within the reach of man to attain, tainted as they necessarily must be with degrees of egoism, we get a graded series of negative or positive possibilities of human perfection or Self-Absorption. When the generalizations and abstractions together with their perceptual or conceptual contents are correctly kept in mind, so as to conform to the overall structuralism, we shall be able to visualize the unity, the context and the content of the present chapter in relation to this work as a whole.



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Furthermore, we have to look upon this chapter as a final limiting case for the whole of the Science of the Absolute. In the same way, the first chapter is the starting limiting point of view. Instead of creation or cosmology we are now concerned with some absolutist versions of eschatology, apocalyptic or prophetic generalizations and revelations, understood without mythological or theological prejudices and stated in a sober matter-of-fact and scientific form. While eschatology pertains, strictly speaking, to a theological context concerning death and kindred notions such as that of the Last Judgment, we are using the term here in the plainer context of spiritual freedom, liberation, happiness or perfection, whether before or after death.

 

If God is considered as a vertical and pure principle who is the material cause or original source of the horizontally manifested and mechanistic world, man, in this final chapter, may be thought of as emerging from this same mechanistic world, raising himself through negative ontological or Dionysiac stages to the heights of possible positive stages of pure Godhood in terms of Self-absorption into the Absolute. Such are some of the presuppositions of this chapter to be kept in mind before considering it in greater detail.



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If the Yogi of that previous chapter belongs to the context of meditation involving a reciprocity between the Self and the non- Self, here we attain to a more intimate and real synthesis or fusion between the two counterparts involved. The good and evil that might still persist in the man of perfection or Self-absorption, portrayed in this chapter, are both cancelled out and transcended by the fully verticalized intensity and transparent purity in one and the same crystalline Self. This Self can resemble a clear crystalline structure tainted, if at all, only with a faint smokiness at the lower of its poles. Evil becomes excusable only on the ground of its being inevitable and natural to ordinary human life. As a scorpion with its sting removed cannot be considered a perfect specimen of its kind, so to, human perfection will only suffer by being presented as a mere conceptual abstraction.



The Science of the Absolute has to make room for the full play of reality under the division of a universal concrete notion comprised within the Absolute. Thus it is correct to think of real men and women when we consider the perfection or Self-absorption reviewed in orderly fashion in the verses of this chapter. Their human defects, if any, only enhance their value as real representatives of humanity and not as mere abstractions. Since there is inevitably a Dionysiac touch even in the most perfected person, this factor as a denominator is capable of being countered or cancelled out by what Nietzsche calls the Apollonian. This positive counterpart tends to fuse with the Dionysiac in order to abolish both and ends beyond the reach of good and evil.

We shall p
resently examine the implications of this in greater detail.



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1. THE SCOPE OF NIRVANA

This chapter is named by Narayana Guru nirvana which we have translated as "absorption". The original Sanskrit term is directly related more to Buddhism than to Vedism or Vedanta. An oil lamp that goes out when there is no oil in it is the nearest popular analogy one can use to give a graphic or real meaning to this word. (1)

 

Being extinguished or becoming extinct is the direct prima facie word used by early Buddhists who did not give importance to the soul of Self as Vedism did. Buddhism stresses the rational and philosophic aspect, rather than the Self treated as a distinct atma or spirit animating the body. It does not accept a spirit animating the body as a kind of sariraka (agent in the body) in the way the Brahma Sutras do. Buddhism discountenances the supposition of an atma and stresses its own anatmavada (principle of the non-Self). This is because, for a rational philosophy like Buddhism, any concept of the soul treated as a mysterious entity would be a kind of blanket expression tending to dampen its more analytic and critical approach. Later Buddhism, howeve,r made amends for this one-sidedness in its own way.

 

The question for us then is whether it is a static soul absorbed in the state of supreme bliss or peace (samadhi) or even Nirvana that Narayana Guru refers to in this chapter. The term absorption suggests no non-entity or vacuity. Into what does the soul or personality get absorbed? And if it gets absorbed is it a unilateral or a bilateral process? Is it a form of neutralization or normalization? Furthermore, how is this chapter related to the previous chapter on Yoga where we found the same counterparts entering into a reciprocal relationship? Above all, the question arises whether the living or the dead person, or both, is to be thought of when examining this chapter?  And why does Narayana Guru speak about an "impure" absorption (asuddha-nirvana) which might include some persons of questionable morality? Does not full absorption amount to morbid death? Such are some of the questions we have to clarify before entering into the more detailed indications of this chapter.



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There is no easy way to answer these questions. As the title of this culminating chapter suggests, it is legitimate to consider the subject-matter as consisting of final questions about life and death as brought under the global perspective of the Absolute. Furthermore, as indicated by Narayana Guru, this refers to a form of spiritual discipline in the sense that it is a further continuation in a more intense form of the same discipline implied in the chapter on Yoga. A person who naturally belongs to such a discipline is visualized in order to give unity and coherence to what is being enumerated and arranged into personal types answering to the various descriptions found in the verses.

 

This chapter can be considered as having a non-theological eschatological character, or at least one corresponding to something of an apocalyptic nature. The movement under reference is from the here and now to the beyond. What is suggested by the ancient Tamil word tandava (strong or vigorous absolutist dancing), as applied to Siva, the Dionysius of Indian spirituality, is the absolutist dance reaching from the actual world to the world beyond or above. The verticalized movement implied in the dance is meant to suggest the transcendence which is of the very essence of the situation. The Self of Man is ever in a state of transcendence, like a leaping flame that is linked through the wick to the earthy aspects of life from where it draws its energies. Life is a flow always having the tendency to reach from the here to the hereafter. The thoughts of a dying person, as the Bhagavad Gita (VIII.6) puts it, are already transcendentally oriented to the unknown values beyond the actualities of life on earth.



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The Nirvana (absorption) of this chapter is a personal orientation of the spirit resembling a discipline or disposition linking life's tendencies from what they are here to what they will be hereafter, whether within the limits of life or beyond it. Here, Nirvana is concerned with a fully verticalized version of the human personality with an orientation more permanently fixed therein towards the attainment of the supreme goal of human existence of life, often referred to as salvation, freedom, emancipation, supreme felicity, absorption, ultimate extinction or cessation of all activities and functions.


In whatever perspective it is viewed, Nirvana is something taking place with reference to a contemplative man. On the background of reality represented by the purest notion of the Absolute, it is the Absolute alone that continues to remain after this supreme event takes place in the consciousness of the Self. Since life is a process, it is not wrong, in. principle, to examine different aspects or degrees of intensity of the process.



Thus, in fixing the scope of the word nirvana as used by Narayana Guru, in a way consistent with its context and content, we are justified in still thinking of the two aspects of a process of absolute becoming. As with a river, we can distinguish in cross-section different degrees of positive and negative processes treated as a structural unit. These cross-sections can be referred to as "a moving image of eternity," found in Plato's "Timaeus", as explained by us on pages 268-269 above. Every cross-section would correspond to a type of contemplative discipline properly belonging to a person capable of transcending good and evil. When this is done such a person resembles Siva or Dionysius, who is counteracted by the serene principle of Apollo. Nietzsche sees Apollo "as (an) ethical deity, (who) exacts measure of his disciples, and, that to this end, he requires self-knowledge." (2)



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While Nietzsche seemed to favour the Dionysiac, he also gives them both an equal status:
 
"The titanic and the barbaric were in the last analysis as necessary as the Apollonian. "(3)
 


Nietzsche's Superman represents the "Will to Power" as a high state of spiritual evolution or exaltation, He represents aspirations that are beyond good and evil, culminating in an absolutist joy in the tragic:

"We are pierced by the maddened sting of these pains just when we have become, as it were, one with the infinite primordial joy in existence, and when we anticipate, in Dionysiac ecstasy, the indestructibility and eternity of this joy. In spite of fear and pity, we are the happy living beings, not as individuals, but as the one living being, with whose creative joy we are united." (4)


The scope of this chapter has to be characterized by all these considerations at once. When synthetically treated they form a global reality giving unity to the whole chapter.

 

 

2. THE DEFINITION OF NIRVANA

An explicit definition of Nirvana is not as easy as was defining Yoga in the last chapter. We may think of Nirvana as a further maturation and stabilization of the same union or fusion between the two aspects of the personality implied in Yoga. If the fusion in Yoga takes place between the semi-fluid transparent counterparts of a globally conceived crystalline Self, in this chapter the fusion is between more fluid and transparent liquids.



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We say this is because Nirvana refers to a process of transcendent becoming in the very essence of the Absolute, reaching from life here to whatever it may become hereafter. As Heraclitus said, "One cannot enter the same stream twice". Such is the flux within which Nirvana takes place.

 

A definition of Nirvana only becomes conceivable in terms of a cross-section that we might choose to take at any part of the course of the fluid situation. Like Plato's, "moving image of eternity," it is the neutralization of the vertical process with the horizontal moment in the becoming of pure time, where we can conceive of not necessarily one typical event or one specific Nirvana answering to the requirements of a definition but of a series of types of Nirvana. Each possible cross-section implies a definition by itself at different levels of becoming, in the ambivalent process where positive and negative antinomian principles are found together.

 

The present chapter, therefore, contains many possible implicit and explicit definitions of varying degrees of Nirvana. It is also to be remembered that the most typical of them for our purposes is to be selected from the most central of the verses. This is because it conforms structurally to the normative requirements of the subject. The definition in its essence has to be conceived in terms of the certitude that a person might have about the truth of the great dictum (mahavakya) of the Upanishads, aham brahmasmi (I am the Absolute). Such a man is referred to in the fifth verse as a brahmavit (a knower of the Absolute). Many Upanishads put this in bold, hopeful and consoling terms, when they asserts, brahmavit brahmaiva bhavati ("The knower of the Absolute becomes the Absolute.").



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The degree of scientific certitude about the Absolute is the only prerequisite for liberation, salvation, peace or supreme happiness as implied in Nirvana. The Upanishads repeat this very theme in other forms whereby the knower of the Absolute is stated to attain the Ultimate. No theological Lord (Isvara) is to be presupposed, here. Thus, when this is fully and scientifically understood without any mythological or theological prejudices, any kind of mediator between man and his ultimate goal is out of the question. Such absolute certainty implies the verity behind such phrases as "knowledge is power," and "Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make ye free." Such a knowledge or certitude has also been praised as "the little leaven that leaveneth the whole lump", and the possession of even a little of this way of life will save one from great fear, as the Bhagavad Gita (11.40) says:

"In such (a path) there is no forfeiture of any merit nor is there involved any demerit by transgression. Even a little of such a way of life saves one from great apprehension." (5)



As the Bhagavad Gita further states, the knower of the Absolute does not stand in fear even of death, which is a sufficiently serious disaster that normally faces ordinary mankind. The double reference to life and death makes the person belonging to the context of Nirvana, a special kind of strong and wise person rising beyond mere conventional respectability. Even a daredevil, profligate, gambler or publican could sometimes have this trait of "superman-hood". The Bhagavad Gita (X.36) openly states this verity, when Krishna says, "I am the chance-risk of gamblers" and in (X.28) we read, "of progenitors I am the god of erotics." Conventional standards do not thus limit the character of an absolutist.



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Even the greatest of sinners is not outside the scope of Nirvana. The Bhagavad Gita (IV.36) points out that a man, however great his sin, will never perish if he is directly affiliated in any way to the high value represented by the Absolute. He is supposed to become very quickly a man of righteousness, more and more fully absorbed in the Absolute. Thus literature referring to Nirvana permits us to think of actual persons who might appear good, bad or indifferent, all to be inclusively comprised within the scope of this chapter when properly treated as belonging to the Science of the Absolute.

 

The highway robber might be so only because of some deep-seated Dionysiac element in his character. This element is only waiting for a touch of a higher and more Apollonian and serene level of expression. These two ambivalent characteristics, named after the two rival Greek Gods, represent two levels in the workings of the human spirit. The fusion of these factors could produce either frenzied ecstatic or serene personalities. The conflict between frenzy and serenity results in different types of personalities belonging to the same context of Nirvana. This justifies Narayana Guru's inclusion among those who pertain to Nirvana even persons who are doubly impure, and thus classified under asuddhasuddha. Although they fall into this category they are still capable of being included as qualified for Nirvana, because they transcend both good and evil in the name of the Absolute value.

 

As a very poisonous snake cannot be called a bad snake, nor a scorpion with a mild sting a superior scorpion; so too, it is that intense quality of being mature for the two-sided absorption implied or intended in Nirvana that determines whether a good, bad or indifferent person can be included in the scope of this chapter. Each chapter, moreover, has its own inner structural consistency, which has to be respected in regard to the immediate topic under discussion.



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This is why good and evil are here transcended and treated as of no consequence. The definition that we have to look for is implied, as we have said, in the central verse where the plain knower of the Absolute is referred to. It goes without saying, however, that in knowing the Absolute there is a wholehearted and direct affiliation implying a high degree of certitude which gives that quality for the type of absolutist involved here a normative status of his own. It is by understanding this central type that we can get the implication of a definition of Nirvana sufficiently clear for our purposes.
 

 

3. GRADES AND DEGREES OF PERFECTION AND PURITY

In one sense it is wrong to refer to perfection or purity in pluralistic terms. This would be a violation of linguistic and logical norms. It is like asking somebody at a bus terminal which bus goes before the first one or which bus starts after the last one. We find however in this chapter that Narayana Guru takes the trouble of calling certain kinds of Nirvana superior, purer or more perfect than others. The price of diamonds displayed in a jeweler´s showcase will be different, although all the diamonds have the same quality of being a diamond or the element carbon. Even in practical life when choosing from a bundle of walking sticks, one could select and grade some as more perfect than others on a scale ranging between strong or more refined ones of the same value.

 

All that glitters is not gold. Tinsel and pure gold have to be graded according to utility or value. Although a globe of the earth is a reality sufficient and complete in itself, one puts arbitrarily conceived lines such as the Equator and Tropic of Cancer, etc. for purposes of communication in analytically referring to its aspects.



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The absolute content of Nirvana is something totally independent of the gradations or degrees of superiority or inferiority that may be attributed to the Absolute. They are useful, nonetheless, for purposes of intelligent communication. A science has to use a precise language so that the kind of certitude resulting from the compatibility of observables and intelligibles becomes precisely understandable. Even when setting a watch each morning there is a faint time-siren or half-audible signal that one relies upon to be sure the time of the watch tallies with standard time. Science is meant to be readily applied to life situations and is not merely for keeping in the cold storage of wisdom found in musty and dusty libraries. Thus we are justified in comparing and contrasting grades and degrees of perfection. The purity of our wholehearted affiliation or degree of certitude or correctness in understanding our relation with the Absolute is important. It is also all-important to know if we belong to the positive or negative side of spiritual progress. We once again revert to our favourite example of a quartz crystal with the structural shape of a colour-solid having iridescent lines playing on its surface showing the saturation and tint of all the chromatic and achromatic colours. We can also think of a number of such crystals ground into a similar shape and size lying on the table of a grinder of precious stones. His task is to find a method of stringing them together on a golden thread. The content of the quartz crystals and the price of each one might be the same because the stone-grinder might not give any importance to fixing separate prices for each individual crystal. But the jeweler who proposes to make a garland out of them might still have to be guided by some factors, however schematic or based on mere categories of nominal importance only.



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The Garland of Visions (Darsana Mala) is also based on the principle of sorting and grading, even if it be only for the purpose of scientific taxonomy or nomenclature. It is in this spirit that Narayana Guru undertakes to sort out and grade Nirvana according to its possible value, extrinsic or intrinsic as the case may be, when treated together unitively. Such a proposed garland is meant to heighten the dignity of a real human being of impartial, complete or perfect wisdom. The whole question is to be considered as belonging to the context of what is independent of good or evil. No duality should taint the vision of the Absolute.

 

If one is asked to sort and grade absurdity there is as much, if not more, difficulty in doing so scientifically. This is also true of subjects such as fame, love, sportsmanship, heroism and chivalry. Each of these subjects has its own closed or self-consistent system of reference and relational factors, all of which are subject to such first principles in the matter of their gradations and classifications. To take an example from the Bible, John the Baptist says he is not fit to undo the sandals of Jesus, although he is his spiritual ancestor in historical terms. Two basic considerations are to be understood here. The historical background gives a value that is quite different from what is non-generically and intrinsically understood. Thus there are inner and outer norms and standards to be kept in mind even when we rely on the same Absolute.

 
In the present chapter it is not easy to visualize clearly the types of persons correctly answering to the grades and degrees of Nirvana referred to in each of the verses. For this requirement of giving representative examples Narayana Guru in his commentary relies on the well-known descriptions of absolutist contemplative types found in the Bhagavad Gita (II. 55-72, XII. 13-19).



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The "Yoga Vasishta" can perhaps give other examples, but this latter and more recent work on Yoga is written in the style of a purana (epic) and examples cited from such a work have a lesser scientific validity of certitude than the Bhagavad Gita which is a text on the Science of the Absolute (brahmavidya).

 

For our own purposes, especially when we are thinking of clarifying the grades of Superman involved in this chapter, we can allow ourselves the latitude of relying on well-known examples of the heroes or striking characters of the world's literature.

 

The characters of Greek tragedy could provide the best examples we require. A bound Prometheus or a Hercules descending into Hades to bring back to life the dead spirit of Alcestis, are two examples of absolutism that come to mind readily. There is also the pre-Christian counterpart of the resurrected Christ of the Passion Plays. Dionysos is also known as Bacchus or Iachus. Between these we have a sufficient range of characters to meet our requirements.

We need not, however, limit ourselves to Greek tragedy. Although it is the best available source from the West, it is more theoretically and idealistically conceived than say, perhaps, Shakespearean tragedy. Othello actually kills Desdemona; Hugo's "Hernani" is a kind of Robin Hood who has clear absolutist traits and, in Hugo's "Les Misérables", Jean Valjean, although considered a criminal, reveals himself to be a full absolutist through his own intentions as stated in his eloquent confessions with the constant refrain, "I am an honest man." In Hugo's "Toilers of the Sea", the hero conquers both the inner world of love and the outer world of impersonal adventure. Goethe's Werther and Wilhelm Meister are also absolutists of a special kind.



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The same is true of Cervantes' Don Quixote, Dostoevsky's tragic Prince Mishkin in "The Idiot", and Turgenev's simple peasant in his touching short story "Mumu"-  all of whom are absolutists, each of his own kind or type.

 

Among female characters, there are Electra and Antigone, who have definite and complementary absolutist traits of their own. Medea, who killed her children to spite her non-absolutist commonplace husband, is another example of the Greek genius in representing aspects of absolutism.. The double suicide pact on which the curtain falls in Hugo's "Hernani", although belonging more to romance than tragedy, has the same touch of absolutism implied in it, though in a much watered-down form. The favourite example of Hamlet need not be forgotten here. Lorca's "Yerma", Strindberg's Miss Julie, and some of the female characters in Buchi's plays are also examples in modern drama where female absolutism is found, although in feebler terms compared to the Greeks.

 

In all these instances the main feature to note is the absolutism implied in the tragic heroes and heroines, and how they transcend the question of good and evil. Even when Narayana Guru refers to impure types of Nirvana the references still have their compatibility with the overall topic of this chapter.
 

 

4. THE PRINCIPLE OF COMPENSATION

Human nature is necessarily a mixture of good and evil. As the Bible recognizes, human nature refuses to be divided strictly into the categories of sheep and goats. The Bhagavad Gita also recognizes the differences between devas (gods) and asuras (demons) in Chapter XVI where the same parities and antinomies of the double frenzy resulting in different types of mysticism are involved.



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In Chapters 7 to 9 of the Darsana Mala, intellect and emotion are treated as interacting or participating with greater or lesser degrees of intimacy between them. We have seen also how Narayana Guru has taken care to dismiss the implied duality between wisdom and works at the end of the last Chapter IX on Yoga. Reconciliation of duality is thus a feature of every chapter here.

 

Now the same principle holds good in a more thorough sense in the present chapter. When human nature is under the sway of instincts it resembles a crystalline quartz structure having a slight smokiness, however delicate, at the bottom tip or half of the crystal. The bright tip at the top might be specially pronounced in certain very intelligent philosophers and the two tips when neutralized would cancel out into perfect normality represented by the brahmavit (knower of the Absolute) of Verse 5.

 

Such a rare balance is, however, not commonly met in actual life. We are more likely to find types of personalities tending to be tilted in favour of one or another of the rival antinomian characteristics. Whatever side might be accentuated at the expense of the other, it must still represents a unitive and global Self. We wish to point out here that there is necessarily implied in this living reciprocity the law of compensation to which we have already alluded. Whatever a man might have lost on one side of this qualification belonging to the context of Nirvana he gains on the other, so that, as with two examination papers having a 50/50 maximum each, the passing marks depend on both, bilaterally and not unilaterally. Every man, even the plainest, might qualify for passing the test here. Rare men might show special excellence in one direction or another. The same principle of compensation, when fully operative, makes any man equal to any other and support the dictum that man is made in the image of God.



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I am reminded here of a simple sailor in a passenger ship, travelling over the shark-infested waters of the Indian Ocean. A melancholy missionary from the Far East who was on board the ship tried to commit suicide by jumping overboard to save himself from some personal shame. The alarm was rung and passengers rushed to the deck to see what had happened A French sailor jumped into the sea. This fellow human being who was the simplest of men felt without a minute´s delay the fully absolutist human urge to save his brown-skinned brother. Most of the crowd that had gathered stood bewildered and confused. The present writer who was also on board, thought on his part that "discretion was the better part of valour" and kept himself serene with this consolation. The suicide attempt was successful as later events showed and the sailor who broke the rules laid down by the Captain about jumping into that part of the ocean, was congratulated by the admiring crowd who were surprised that he was willing to lay down his life so readily on the basis of a feeling of human fellowship. On this occasion, this feeling attained an absolutist status within him. I soon began to realise his superiority as a human being, although my own justification for not being as spontaneous as he was still seemed convincing enough according to my own more serene and composed Apollonian spirit of calm understanding. What he had gained on one side was lost to the absolutism on the other, but both could equally be justified theoretically by an impartial Science of the Absolute.

 

Here we have a direct example of the operation of the principle of compensation. In the context of Nirvana everyone can be considered fundamentally as a human being having the same norm for purposes of reference only. As in the case of a precious stone, the superiority depends on the principle of uniqueness or rarity. By referring to extreme positive and negative instances it should not be thought that a normal type endowed for one kind of expression of absolutism should imitate another.



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Rather it is to be understood that each person should conform to the type of behaviour proper to himself. Whether considered pure or valuable depending upon actual circumstances of purer principles of absolutism, the implied norm is always a constant. Thus, all become equal in the eyes of God. The absolutist himself who looks at anyone from the same godly perspective can only see equality reflected in all things whether considered sacred or profane. This truth is also strikingly expressed in the Bhagavad Gita (V.18) where we read:

"In regard to a Brahmin endowed with learning or humility, a cow, an elephant and even a dog, as also one who cooks dog (for food), the well-informed ones (panditah) see the same differenceless reality." (6)


Every person is made in the image of God and has the kingdom of God within them. God is a reference to man and man is his dialectical counterpart, giving the same status to the Son of man as to the Son of God, i.e., the same Jesus of Nazareth. It is in such a perspective that the content of this chapter which seems to include good and bad people under the scope of the same value of Nirvana, is to be viewed. As Nietzsche points out in "Ecce Homo", his Superman, represented by Zarathustra, is " the very essence of Dionysos. (7)

 

Dionysos represent the tragic and ecstatic and his counterpart is Apollo. We can say here that when both these elements are fused together we get the Superman of this chapter.



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In this virile absolutist vision Nietzsche condemns all that is merely goody-goody and namby-pamby as implied in Pauline Christian morality. Such a morality is left behind and fully transcended by something reaching beyond the duality of both good and evil. Wholeheartedness and what Nietzsche calls strength are the inevitable prerequisites of his Superman who might be at least fitted into the content of any one of the types described in the present chapter as rajasik (having active horizontal dispositions) and tamasik (having negative Herculean attitudes that are of earth earthy). In Nietzsche's Superman these traits dominate the purer dispositions of an Apollo. Thus viewed, a pagan might sometimes qualify better in spirituality than a good or conventional Christian.

 

The asymmetry however can be pronounced in favour of the serene and the intelligent. Such serene types of Supermen are not, however, easily or naturally appreciated in the spiritual climate of the modern West. The smiling or meditating Buddha whose statue is found all over the Far East, represents a serene type of Superman. Ancient Europe has its Cernunnos figure belonging to the Celts which in essence is of the same spiritual grade as the Buddha. The polarity need not be pronounced in all cases and it would be better for us to think of personalities who combine both traits in a more symmetrically balanced or harmonized fashion. We need not necessarily keep exaggerated examples in our mind, but only those features distinguished by the clear definitions given in each typical instance in the classification of types of spiritual absorption in the verses of Narayana Guru. In fact when the polarity is least pronounced, the unity of the personality or self involved is best served for the purposes of clarifying the content of this chapter. In this sense the majority of men may claim also to be Superman.



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If someone prefers to live in the colder climates of Europe and North America, such a preference need not be binding on a person who prefers the climate of the equator. Both persons will be able to communicate their preferences between themselves only when the implications of the latitudes and longitudes of the cold regions and the equator are understood as belonging to the same Science. Each man thus conforms to his own svadharma (the type of behaviour compatible with one's inner nature), while trying to understand the same attitude in others who might be different from him. No question of superiority or inferiority should arise and a scientific vision in this matter will help humans to live together in better harmony which is not a negligible factor in human life. The perfection of the Superman and the perfection of God thus become interchangeable terms in the proper light of this chapter. Both are sacred and profane when viewed in the neutral light of the Absolute which is beyond good and evil.
 

 

5. THE EQUILIBRIUM OF A TWO-FOLD AND DOUBLE CORRECTION

In order to understand the various levels of values implied between the lowest Inferno and the highest Heaven we can cite more instances from classical or speculative literature as well as from literature combining both, as for example, Goethe's "Faust" and Dante's "Divine Comedy". As a pilgrim in these higher regions, the soul is confronted with favourable or unfavourable factors obstructing or facilitating man's true Destiny. Leopards, lions, snakes, and wolves confront the soul's pilgrimage at different levels in Dante, but the favourable divine spirit of Beatrice comes down from above when the pilgrim has transcended certain levels such as limbo or purgatory. The world of apes and witches along with the world of scientists and students mark such levels in Goethe´s "Faust".



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These attempts are not scientific in any modern and precisely understandable sense, but one is able to discover in Dante and Goethe the same structural implications of graded generalization and abstraction of horizontal and vertical value factors that enter into mutual reciprocity of relationship so as to accomplish the highest good; that is to say to attain the Absolute.

 

If the precise implications of Nirvana are to be finally explained we can use terms borrowed from the world of machines, electromagnetics and thermodynamics. We have terms like homeostasis, equilibrium and normalization of factors. These have already been elaborated in the Preliminaries (see pages 97 to 106). The scientific idioms and terms developed in recent times presuppose a revised epistemology and methodology to which we have already given sufficient space in the first part of this work. We have even devoted a whole chapter to methodology, particularly that of Bergson, who has succeeded in reducing the notion of relativistic and pluralistic time into a unique and universal absolute time. What he has done can be extrapolated and applied to the whole situation involved in a Science of the Absolute, when globally and precisely understood, with a degree of certitude made fully scientific rather than merely speculative.

 

It is here that mathematics can replace less positive mythological or theological language which is usually resorted to in eschatological and apocalyptic revelations through proverbs and parables. Bergson has alluded to a four-fold correction involved in the reduction of relative time to absolute time. It is such a correction that we have in mind here.



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For purposes of clarifying further the implications of the kind of salvation, Nirvana, or attainment of the Absolute which might still be ambiguous or vague in the mind of the intelligent modern reader, we are now more ready to take up again certain questions in the light of what we have already explained in this Prologue.


There is a double and twofold correction to be applied to the finalized notion of the Absolute before we can give to Nirvana a degree of scientific certitude. The indications are contained in the last two verses of Narayana Guru and we shall now examine them more closely. In the Epilogue we shall also attempt to relate them to the context of the non-dual Vedanta of India.


For the present we shall merely refer to an implicit correction or cancellation of counterparts of one pair, having a schematic reference, while the other pair has a vertical parity between them to be abolished by mutual absorption. Thus there is a twofold and double correction to be made for attaining full certitude about the Absolute. The part corresponding to Nirvana also corresponds by extrapolation, interpolation or both, to the overall certitude to be attained from the declaration of all the visions covered in serial fashion in this work. The final definition of the Absolute (brahman) belongs to the larger context of Nirvana. As we see in the penultimate verse it is the result of a neutralization or normalization rather than the result of an ascending or descending effort on the part of the contemplative.



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As the verse clearly states the Absolute is self-luminous and sufficient unto itself. It emerges when it is left fully alone as the Taoist philosophers say. Our efforts, in whatever direction they are made, will only spoil the case for the certitude proper to the normalized notion of the Absolute. When normalization is accomplished the Self-luminous nature of the Absolute becomes evident to the contemplative of its own accord. There is an identity between subject and object marking the term of the wisdom implied in the Science of the Absolute.


The final verse puts this normalization in the form of the familiar doctrine of Advaita Vedanta when it refers to the absence of any individual or external duality or contradiction in the fourfold structure. The further implications are explained by Narayana Guru in the commentary on the last verse.


All we wish to underline here is the bilateral nature of the correction to be applied before final certitude about the Absolute results. No multilateral certitude is intended. Salvation refers to the normalized, neutralized spirit of man in tune with the Absolute. Man then attains to the supreme absorption, peace or stillness without any question or possibility of returning to dualistic or horizontal activities that might give him unrest or unhappiness any more. Such a certitude is the essence of the Nirvana of the Science of the Absolute, by whatever name it might be described in various contexts.



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6. VEDANTA AND WESTERN THOUGHT

Our attempt in the Prologue of each chapter has been to look at the subject matter from the modern Western point of view so that the strangeness of the Eastern or Vedantic approach to the same problems might be minimized. We have not been strict in this and many times we have brought in quotations from Eastern sources when we felt it was justified. The same is also true conversely of the Epilogue.


The subject of salvation can be approached philosophically as well as religiously. When treated religiously in the Western context we have to equate values belonging to infernos and heavens so as to cancel both out into the central value of the Absolute. These matters have been covered already. It will be of interest, however, to close this section by referring to the affinities between Western thought and Vedanta in respect of the principles common to both. This will enable us to think of the same salvation or Nirvana in the light of philosophical doctrines with a scientific status. Here we find the contribution's of the indologist Paul Deussen, who has suggested a correct way of relating the best of the idealistic context in the West with its corresponding thought in the East.


We do not agree that Vedanta is idealistic in the sense that idealism implies a lack of recognition of all concrete and universal aspects of reality. Many Indian authorities on Vedanta fall into this one-sided view. Even Radhakrishnan takes this erroneous view as implied in the title of one of his books, "An Idealist View of Life", which is his own interpretation of Vedanta.



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The aspects of this question are so highly interesting and informative that we feel justified in devoting some space to their examination. We are especially interested in the points of contact between Plato, Kant and Schopenhauer in the West and Vedanta in the East from the standpoint of Sankara, who is perhaps its best representative. Both points of contact unmistakably put the accentuation for reality in the innate a priori synthetic of the Self, where all things-in-themselves must reside in the form of the possibility of all intelligible entities having a true reality. Intelligible entities alone, in Plato at least, have their reality in a positive world of ideas on the vertical plus side. This is where all general ideas have to be placed according to the language of structuralism. In spite of these slight epistemological discrepancies, the very fact that both Western thought and Advaita Vedanta deal with the empirical world as appearance, is, by itself, a sufficiently important common. feature to be kept in mind. This common feature justifies Deussen when he says that in two widely differing parts of the world the same fundamental philosophical truth has been expounded.

 

Deussen also claims that it was Kant who gave precise scientific status to the analysis of the manifest world when he postulated his three main categories of space, time and causation as a priori principles. Deussen summarizes the precise proofs found in Kant's writings about the a priori status given to these categories, but does not refer to their schematization which was also outlined by Kant as we have explained elsewhere (see pages 957-965 above). According to us, the schematic a priori and its logical counterpart will form two distinct sets belonging to the same notion of the Absolute, one being of a high and pure symbolic or nominalistic order and the other of a geometrical or lower order.



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These two aspects of the same Absolute have been often referred to in Vedanta as the transcendental (para) and the immanent (apara). these When all vestiges of duality between these two versions of the Absolute are finally abolished and completely cancelled out, the final result in this chapter is called perfection or Nirvana. The cancellation of the numerator with the denominator results in not giving primacy either to empiricism or to any kind of idealism. Instead they are treated equally. This is the final Upanishadic dictum vaguely understood by commentators like Sankara, Ramanuja and Madhva. Their vague understanding has been the cause of much instability in finalizing Vedanta doctrine as ought to have been done.

 

We have examined some of these vibrations and disturbances taking place in the instrument of thought and expressing itself in the form of a throbbing mysticism caught in a situation of either-or, rather than of both-together. Finalized Vedanta equates the world of ideas with the given empirical aspect of the same Absolute into one non-dual fact, truth or value. Paul Deussen´s summary of the proofs derived from Kant's philosophy attain to a scientific or at least mathematical finality, as far as such a finality can be claimed in Western thought. While we are engaged in examining Western affinities to the Vedanta of this chapter it is not out of place here to quote from Deussen:

"The clothing of the doctrine of emancipation in empirical forms involved as a consequence the conceiving of emancipation, as though it were an event in an empirical sense, from the point of view of causality, as an effect which might be brought about or accelerated by appropriate means. Now emancipation consisted on its external phenomenal side:

1. In the removal of the consciousness of plurality.

2. In the removal of all desire, the necessary consequence and accompaniment of that consciousness.

To produce these two states artificially was the aim of two characteristic manifestations of Indian culture.

 

1) Of the Yoga, which by withdrawing the organs from the objects of sense and concentrating them on the inner self, endeavoured to shake itself free from the world of plurality and to secure union with the atman.

2) Of the Samnyasa, which by the "casting off from oneself" of home, possessions, family and all that stimulates desire, seeks laboriously to realise that freedom from all the ties of earth, in which a deeper conception of life in other ages and countries also has recognized the supreme task of earthly existence, and will probably continue to recognize throughout all future time" (8)

Thus Yoga (union by self discipline) and Samnyasa (renunciation are explained and understood in a manner that does not show disparity between Vedanta and Western Thought at its best in the contexts common to Plato, Kant and Schopenhauer. The only aspect of Vedanta that tends to be forgotten is that an ontology based on the notion of a universal concrete existence is not outside the Absolute Self in Vedanta while it may be so in Plato's idealism. In V.7 of the Chapter IV on Maya (Negativity) we can see how the absolute Self gives recognition to the Universal Concrete Self.



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7. FURTHER ESCHATOLOGICAL CONSIDERATIONS

The idea of a Superman is relevant to this chapter only insofar as it affords reference to an accepted notion in Western philosophy, wherein, by transcending good and evil, an absolutist touch is recognizable in an actual living person. The eschatological implications of the absolutist life possible to man are only weakly implied therein. For the purposes of the present chapter it is necessary to keep in mind not only the actual living personality characterized by traits of possible Superman-hood, but also the more Dionysiac feature of transcending life in a fully eschatological sense. Eschatology, moreover, can be viewed from a scientific or a theological context.

 

Vedantic eschatology does not contradict or violate the spirit of a scientific or even a mathematical eschatology, understood in the sense outlined in Paul Deussen's writings cited above.. In fact he has the intention of putting together Vedantic eschatology and his own summarized view of eschatology derived from the writings of Kant and Schopenhauer, It is permissible for us to think that the a priori innate world of time, space, causality, conceptually and synthetically understood, can be equated to its own categorical schematic counterpart which is the analytic hierophantic world of empirical appearances. This latter world is the natural counterpart of the former hypostatic one when conceived in terms of intelligible and conceptual categories, rather than in the geometrically visible form of Kant's schematismus.

 

The a priori and the a posteriori can thus cancel themselves out into the perfect neutrality of the Absolute. Although Deussen does not push his views to such justifiable eschatological conclusions as we do, nothing in what he states is against such an interpretation. The methodology proper to such an equation of the a priori Absolute, with its own a posteriori counterpart brings us to the main conclusions of the methodology outlined in the second chapter of this work.



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In that chapter we did not rely on the German idealists such as Schlegel, Schelling, Schleiermacher and Fichte who were evidently influenced by Upanishadic thought as well as by the mystical tradition established by Eckhart, Tauler and others. Nor did we refer to later German philosophers like Nietzsche and Schopenhauer, but instead we referred to Bergson's finalized reduction of multiple relative time into one unique absolute time.

 

The gist of what Bergson has proved can be stated in one sentence if we say that the metaphysician and the physical scientist are equally qualified to be philosophers in a unified and integrated sense, wherein perceptual and conceptual factors cancel out as numerator and denominator having an epistemological equality between them. Such is the scientific presupposition of the possibility of a final union of the Self with the non-Self in the absorption of both into the Absolute which is the same as the pure Nirvana of this chapter.

 

We can rely on Paul Deussen's analysis and summary of the Vedantic position in this matter. This will enable us to see how the main Vedantic presuppositions on the subject of eschatology do not in any way violate the broad lines in which the attainment of the Absolute has itself been imagined by modern thinkers of the West. We reproduced in some detail the summary of the Vedantic version of salvation which is called mukti, but which has its two main sub-divisions which are jivanmukti (liberation while yet alive) and videhamukti (disembodied liberation, or liberation properly applicable to spirit). The ambivalence or polarity to which the spirit of man must be considered as subject, and where the union between counterparts is fully finalized, justifies the view of a series of types of superior men who might express the underlying ambivalence in a more or less pronounced manner. The parity, reciprocity, cancellability or complementarity between the counterparts of the Self involved in the emergence of a superior man might have different degrees of duality implied between them.



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When the fusion is most perfect and complete there is no throbbing of the engine or instrument of action. The unmoved mover and the pure act meet in the complete silence such as that of the flywheel of a great smooth-running engine.

 

Emancipation in Vedanta has been referred to as a kind of suddhibhrit (the gaining of purity). In other contexts it has been referred to as sattvasuddhi (purity in the truth of the substance) and as satta samanya (equality of status between the substantial existence of the Self and the non-Self). We have also seen in the previous chapter that some of the Yoga Upanishads refer to these counterparts in the same cancelable manner. Thus cancellability of counterparts is of the very essence of the finalized eschatological doctrine, both as found in Vedanta and in modern scientific or philosophical thought.



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FOOTNOTES

[1] The verses of Narayana Guru to which reference is made will be found on pp.1213-1228

 

[2] Nietzsche, "The Birth of Tragedy from the Spirit of Music" trans. C. Fadiman, (from) "The Philosophy of Nietzsche", p.966.

 

[3] Nietzsche,p.967

 

[4] ibid. p.980

 

[5] Bhagavad Gita, p.147

 

[6] Bhagavad Gita,p. 272

 

[7] "Ecce Homo", from the Philosophy of Nietzsche, p. 902.

 

[8] Deussen, Phil. Up., pp. 411-412