Saturday, January 5, 2008

Eastern Philosophy Letter

By Sudipa Sarkar
Introduction

Eastern philosophy describes the themes and philosophical traditions embedded in the regions including China, Japan, Korea, India, Iran (Persia) and to an extent of Middle East. The primary ancient eastern philosophy combines the wisdom of Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism and Confucianism. The most essential ingredient of eastern philosophy encapsulates the idea of consciousness and awareness of the unity and mutual interrelation among every single being and entity as well as the events and phenomenon experienced in the universe manifested into the theme of oneness. Hence, every single existence is an interdependent and inseparable form of cosmic universe leading to ultimate manifestation of supreme reality. Different philosophers starting since ancient time to modern era have enlightened and enhanced the philosophical groundwork that has enriched many of the different facets of eastern philosophies. This paper aims at illustrating the philosophical thought behind the letter composed in the persona of Sri Aurobindo, the great Indian revolutionary philosopher, to one of his pupils and its underlying theme and essence.

An Imaginary Letter of Aurobindo to His Disciple

“The craving you can listen in silence not actually belonging to your physical heart, but in the emotional part of your mind. The physical heart is the manifestation of your outer being, whereas the emotional heart is solely the inner entity. This is true that most of the individuals live in their usual outer ignorant world which is not a common pathway for understanding the supremacy of Divine Power. On the other hand, there is that inner entity or innermost being that is the perfect place for deriving the ultimate Truth and Light, but people, almost most of them, are ignorant about it. It seems that there is a wall or obstacle that separates both the outer being and the inner being – the wall of obscurity, ignorance and unconsciousness. When this wall of ignorance ruptures down, there is a release characterized by the feelings of calmness and eternal joy, which you can experience immediately after the release. The craving you listen is the craving to your own innermost entity by the unexpectedness of the breaking of the obstacle and the great release.”

— Letters on Yoga (Part 3 Section 3)
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“This is not so easy to understand the psychic being at its initial stage. The conscious of an inner being ought to be allowed to grow and develop as this is entirely separate from the external personality and nature. The Purusha needs to be detached from the external actions and activities of the Prakriti. The manifestations described above are truly psycho-physical vibration and the most important outcome of the incidence is the initiation of an attempt to craft a way of connection between mental or emotional heart, that is, inner mind, will, vision situated on the forehead, with that of the higher centre or charka above. The obstacle of ignorance can be eliminated gradually by doing unrelenting sadhana, which enables the alteration of deep bright states normally and inevitably. The light, you may observe, is the indicator of your experience as an action of spiritual mind-force and the rest works as an opening door to the higher spiritual centre. This event is known as sahasradala.”

— Letters on Yoga (Part 3 Section 3)
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“The consciousness, described in Gita, is considered as a witness – that is, Purusha is a witness of creation. The Purusha is the fundamental and true being, or you can say, in a given plane it manifests, embodies the true being. In a normal situation, considering the ordinary individual, this true entity is covered up by the persona of ego and the unconscious or ignorant part of Prakriti influenced the knowledge, the unseen hence remains unseen supporting the play of ignorance and obscurity. When the release occurs, you can feel a unified eternal conscious experience centralized with calmness and joy and entirely unidentified with the play of ignorance. You should understand the basic truth – that is, it may be wrapped over there but the underlying existence is always there. The release of the Purusha is the commencement of freedom, in the course of time, it slowly master the entire self by adapting the process of the superficial nature of the ego and eliminating the play of ignorance which works as lowering the system. Now the vibration is observed as the higher forces acts to play in replacing the lower movement, whereas, the lower forces struggling to exist and push away the higher forces in outwards direction during the process of replacement. As you have said prior in your last letter, that the offering to the Supreme Divine makes the process shorter and more effective, but this is not so easy and cannot be completed at its fullest extent all of a sudden, where one is coated up by his or her habits set by the ego – hence, these two methods continue in concert until and unless the complete surrender has taken place.”
— Letters on Yoga (Part 3 Section 3)

Samkhya – The oldest classical school of Indian Philosophy

Hindu Philosophy is primarily categorized under six schools of thought called Darshanas (Ramamurty, 2000) –
(I) Samkhya
(II) Yoga
(III) Nyaya
(IV) Vaisheshika
(V) Purva Mimamsa
(VI) Vedanta

Samkhya is the oldest theistic school of philosophy, originally composed by Ishvara Krishna, during circa 2000 CE (Ramamurty, 2000). The philosophy encapsulating Samkhya describes the fundamental components of the universe and hence its formation. In a strongly dualist form of philosophy, Samkhya enumerates how the universal cosmic power influences the creation of the whole entity. It considers that the universe combines two eternal realities, that is, Purusha and Prakriti, where Purusha is the core of all consciousness and Prakriti is the origin of all materialistic existence (Sinha N, 2003). Thus, in metaphysical explanation, Samkhya illustrates an essential duality between spirit or consciousness (Purusha) and matter (Prakriti). It is described as all the physical events and entities are evolved through the manifestation of Prakriti (Radhakrishnan & Moore, 1967). Each existence being Purusha, is purely unrestricted by its own physical body and limit (Sinha N, 2003). Samsara or bondage is the manifestation of not being able to discriminate the knowledge of conscious revolution of Purusha, hence being misguided to opposite direction of own fundamental identity, leading a confusion with the existence of physical body – constricted within the evolution of Prakriti itself. The spirit or consciousness is evolved when there is a discrimination of knowledge of difference between consciousness derived from Purusha and unconsciousness derived from Prakriti (Sinha N, 2003).

Theory of Existence as ascribed in the letter

The letter composed here has been paraphrased from the ‘Letter on Yoga’, the collection of letters on almost all areas of psycho-philosophical and spiritual instructions compiled by Sri Aurobindo to his disciples. Sri Aurobindo illustrated the vibration occurred at the beginning of the creation – it is initially manifested within the entity by virtue of the elimination of the wall of ignorance and obscurity – with the realization of the ultimate consciousness, that is the true and fundamental entity of every being. The illumination from the darkness of ignorance to the Truthfulness and ultimate light of knowledge is the manifestation of creation – an evolution of realization of truth and its variations at different psycho-spiritual planes. In the above-mentioned letter, the content is primarily narrowed down to the brief explanation of the process of creation and the manifestation of realization of uplift of emotional truth to metaphysical truth (Radhakrishnan & Moore, 1967). Based on the scriptures composed in the Bhagavat Gita, Sri Aurobindo emphasized on the realization of the difference and the discrimination of the wisdom encapsulating the inner and outer being to its manifestation of the creation of universe and the realization of Divine Being (Sri Aurobindo, 1994), the infinite, invisible, formless, omnipresent reality that is existing forever in the absolute frame (Radhakrishnan & Moore, 1967). As depicted in the above-mentioned letter, the purpose of universe including us, that is all the beings, is to identify and discover our True Self (Sri Aurobindo, Wilber, & Dalal, 2000), the Spirit, the ultimate reality, the Purusha so that we could be able to understand the fundamental deep-rooted Nature of our own existence as well as the reality inscribed within the universe in the form of highest consciousness (Chaudhuri, 1960). During the process, we would be moving forward to our ultimate discovery or self-discovery at its highest state (Sri Aurobindo, Wilber & Dalal, 2000), and the realization of spirit to its highest existence to realize the Divine Source enabled throughout the whole cosmos (Chaudhuri, 1960). The self discovery occurs when the obstacle of ignorance, which stands as a borderline between inner mind and outer mind, is eliminated from the plane of absolute realization (Chaudhuri, 1960). The emotional heart is actually situated on the forehead, between the physical eyes, also known as ‘the third eye’, where the sixth charka lies (Sri Aurobindo, Wilber, & Dalal, 2000). The general orientation of this charka is inwards direction where it resonates in a deep indigo colour and is concerned with all the beliefs regarding spiritual self and universe (Ghose & McDermott, 2001), including desires and fears for the unseen. The process of evolution by the manifestation of Prakriti and Purusha occurs primarily in two phases –

(I) At its initial stage, the realization and understanding of the separate existence of Purusha and Prakriti by the virtue of wisdom, vision and self-observation
(II) The uplifting of the realization to the understanding of Supreme or Ultimate Cosmological Power, and being identified with the supreme unity (Ghose & McDermott, 2001)
These two phases have been achieved by the proper application of sadhana – the gradual process for altering the states of consciousness by entering deeper brighter states normally and inevitably (Bruteau, 1975). Sadhana takes an individual soul to the ultimate realization and the state is achieved with a bright light – light of illumination or light of wisdom – guiding the individual soul to its ultimate realization of Truth – located in the seventh charka, known as crown charka. The ultimate purpose of this spiritual journey philosophically demonstrates the idea of experiencing dualities of existence with the highest level of consciousness attributed to the spiritual love, truth, wisdom, bliss and power (Bruteau, 1975).

The letter is progressed with the philosophical concept of manifestation of the Divine and the universe relating to its fundamental components – Purusha and Prakriti and their interaction – in order to understand the duality enabling the greatest multiplicity and possibility of forms and functions (Roy, 1991). The process of creation basically encapsulates the idea of self-conception and its manifestation of conceiving of the universe for the purpose of the self-discovery and the ultimate discovery of existence as a whole to experience the delight (Kluback & Finkenthal, 2001). When the emergence of ultimate truth, that is, Purusha, has come into existence from the envelope of the superficial ego that has been developed as a result of pseudo-reality (Roy, 1991), the cosmological vibration occurs in its true essence. The vibration continues until the lower forces, that are ego and matter as an outcome of Prakriti, become absolutely eliminated by the higher forces that are inscribed by the true self or Purusha. In the course of time, the Purusha slowly governs the whole system or entity by mastering the self and the emergence of the true nature of the universe (Kluback & Finkenthal, 2001). At the end, the feelings of calmness along with the joy, known as delight (Bruteau, 1975), is being experienced. Hence, the mental-centric consciousness has been directed towards the broader perspective encapsulating a sense to a greater degree of the manifestation of own uniqueness and individuality, developing a greater distinctiveness with the ultimate or absolute freedom (Roy, 1991) – hence the fulfillment and purpose of life and evolution has been established (Kluback & Finkenthal, 2001). Thus, the process of homeostasis or equilibrium state is achieved when the complete elimination of the lower forces by the higher one is stabilized.

Conclusion

Sri Aurobindo is considered one of the amongst all the greatest philosophers of all the time, who has provided a surface understanding of the creation of universe and the existence of soul with the depiction of the interaction of soul. The letters written by Sri Aurobindo is the exquisite example of classical Hindu philosophy which describes the evolution in relation to the universe by the virtue of rationalization of cosmic ideas and principle governing the transcendental movement of nature. This is true that the transcendent ideas of spiritual planes and its complexities as illustrated by Sri Aurobindo requires great steadiness, more focus and intensity of thought and realization, but we can still gain a comprehensible knowledge expressed in unimpeachable reason and logic if we can settle ourselves in an inner silence.
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