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Saturday, July 27, 2019

Our Perception and the Universe


 When I see something, that something became visible to me, perceptible to me.

Therefore, it must have been there already, before it became visible to my senses.

It will be there, would have been there, even if I do not exist to become aware of its existence.

It was made perceptible by light or touch or sound. It was made known to me. But I do not know how or when it came into existence.

It became known to me because it was in a sense “illuminated” by my perception. Then, it became my knowledge. But, how did I become aware of that perception and of that knowledge?  

Light makes itself known and also makes the object it illuminates to be known.

So does my conscience, making itself known as “my awareness” and making me aware of the objects and sound.

Sound, light and smell (which Samkhya calls Tanmatra) are common underlying universal properties. Brhadaranyaka upanishd asks: “Without the basic sound of the drum, how can you hear the notes of the drum? Without the basic notes of the lute how can you hear the music of the lute?”. But they are inherent in or property of matter and impermanent, although have a much longer permanence than our individual lives.

We and our organs which perceive light, sound and touch are impermanent.

The objects of perceptions are also impermanent.

Everything in this world evolved out of the Primordial One. Once they became part of the world of name and form  (naama-rupa) they became part of the cycle of  coming into being, growing, modification, decay and dissolution. When their presence and our presence coincide, they became part of our field of perception.

This world is real to those who live. It is not an illusion. Vedanta does not call this world an illusion or maya.  The word used is mithya, true from one point of view and not so from another. They are real in the phenomenal world. In a deep sense, they are what our perceptions make them to be. We make images of them. The images are reasonably close to reality. But we do not know them as they truly are.

If this is phenomenal world, what is the noumenon? We are always dealing with the objective world. Who is the subject? How can anyone know the subject as an object of perception? That was the central theme of Adi Sankara’s analysis and Upanishadic teachings.

According to Sankara and the Vedanta philosophy, “Subject is not a logical but a metaphysical term.” It is, in fact, “another name for self, soul, spirit or whatever name has been given to the eternal element in man and God.” (Three Lectures on the Vedanta Philosophy. F. Max Mueller. Longmans and Green & Co, London. 1904)  Subject and object  are diametrically opposed and mutually exclusive. Therefore, what is conceived as the object can never be conceived as the subject. “The You may be seen and heard and touched, but the We or the I can never be seen, heard, or touched."  
“How can we know THAT by which we know?” asked Yagnavalkya. In this view the subjective knower or the witness (also known as the Self or Atman) can never be known as an object of our thoughts. It “can only be itself, and thus be conscious of itself.” As soon as the Self is made into an object for study or observation, nescience or avidya starts. With that starts the phenomenal world, duality, birth and death. Self itself, as the subject, stands alone (kaivalya) and is immortal.

If this world is phenomenal, there must be something behind it from which it appears. For the phenomenal world that something is referred to in the Vedas as It (tat), The One (Eka) and Who (Ka). The word Brahman came in later. In the world of phenomenon there may be many gods but, they are not the real Real. Brahman is the real one.

Similarly, for the ego of the phenomenal world of human, the real one behind is the self or Atman.

There is only one. Brahman. In the world of pheonomenon It is the subject and object and the basis of our relative state of name and form. In Its absolute state It just Is.

2 comments:

Krishnan said...

Would it be right to conclude that we live and perceive in duality, but have to cross over and experience the Truth?. I am still trying to assimilate the totality of your thesis. I may have to read it a few more times to grasp the inner meanings.
Thanks.

Balu said...

Yes. More important is the point that we do not have to cross over, because IT is here and now as the Subject of all that we perceive.
Thanks for your interest.