December 27, 2006

Invisible travellers of the journey

Re: Instruments of Knowledge and Post-Human Destinies
by RY Deshpande on Tue 26 Dec 2006 05:21 AM PST Profile Permanent Link
This note could be to see, at least meet, some of the “invisible travellers of the journey” on the path of post-human destinies. They are as ancient as Patanjali but seem to be more friendly than the present-day vague sojourners.

Patanjali in his Yoga-Sutra describes the three inner conditions to be fulfilled for getting the knowledge of the objective world. But when was this system given? There is a detailed exposition of the Sutras by Vyasa and therefore it must precede him; if he is the Vyasa of the Mahabharata then, it could be before 3000 BC. The three requirements of the objective knowledge stipulated by Patanjali are: dhāraņā, dhyāna, and samādhi. The three terms can be understood as follows: dhāraņā is the act of holding, supporting, preserving, keeping the mind collected; dhyāna concerns with meditation, contemplation, reflection; and samādhi is the absorption of thought into the object of meditation, intentness, concentration, bringing together, union with it. The combination of dhāraņā, dhyāna and samādhi constitutes samyama, the three perceiving or held together or fixed on the object. The successful accomplishment of samyama, leads to Wisdom or prajňā. In the siddhi of samyama one enters into a kind of meditation in which the object of meditation can still remain distinct; it is samprajňātah. Eventually, there arrives the state of Wisdom which is full of Truth, ritambharā prajňā.

Patanjali gives quite number of examples of the successful samyama, the siddhis attained through samyama. Thus when differentiation of succession is made, it leads to change; samyama on change brings knowledge of the three divisions of time, past-present-future. The sound of a word when uttered, its sense, and the object it connotes are taken together by us, but samyama on it gives knowledge of what it is; thus samyama on these three aspects of the word ‘tree’ brings knowledge of the tree. By samyama on the strength of an elephant comes strength to us. Knowledge of the universe comes by samyama on the Sun, bhuvanajňānam sūryé samyamāt. These include seven nether worlds and the seven ascending worlds of Matter-Life-Mind-Supermind-Existence-Consciousness-Bliss. By samyama on the Moon knowledge of the arrangement of the stars is obtained, that is the Vedic way of doing astronomy; and then samyama on Polaris gives knowledge about the relative movements of the stars.

Along with samyama given by Patanjali, let us also see The Life Divine. Sri Aurobindo writes about the four methods of knowledge as follows: “Our surface cognition, our limited and restricted mental way of looking at our self, at our inner movements and at the world outside us and its objects and happenings, is so constituted that it derives in different degrees from a fourfold order of knowledge. The original and fundamental way of knowing, native to the occult self in things, is a knowledge by identity; the second, derivative, is a knowledge by direct contact associated at its roots with a secret knowledge by identity or starting from it, but actually separated from its source and therefore powerful but incomplete in its cognition; the third is a knowledge by separation from the object of observation, but still with a direct contact as its support or even a partial identity; the fourth is a completely separative knowledge which relies on a machinery of indirect contact, a knowledge by acquisition which is yet, without being conscious of it, a rendering or bringing up of the contents of a pre-existent inner awareness and knowledge. A knowledge by identity, a knowledge by intimate direct contact, a knowledge by separative direct contact, a wholly separative knowledge by indirect contact are the four cognitive methods of Nature.” The Life Divine, pp. 524-25

About knowledge by identity we may look into a few more aspects also. Thus “…when the subject draws a little back from itself as object, then certain tertiary powers of spiritual knowledge, of knowledge by identity, take their first origin. There is a spiritual intimate vision, a spiritual pervasive entry and penetration, a spiritual feeling in which one sees all as oneself, feels all as oneself, contacts all as oneself. There is a power of spiritual perception of the object and all that it contains or is, perceived in an enveloping and pervading identity, the identity itself constituting the perception. There is a spiritual conception that is the original substance of thought, not the thought that discovers the unknown, but that which brings out the intrinsically known from oneself and places it in self-space, in an extended being of self-awareness, as an object of conceptual self-knowledge. There is a spiritual emotion, a spiritual sense, there is an intermingling of oneness with oneness, of being with being, of consciousness with consciousness, of delight of being with delight of being. There is a joy of intimate separateness in identity, of relations of love joined with love in a supreme unity, a delight of the many powers, truths, beings of the eternal oneness, of the forms of the Formless; all the play of the becoming in the being founds its self-expression upon these powers of the consciousness of the Spirit. But in their spiritual origin all these powers are essential, not instrumental, not organised, devised or created; they are the luminous self-aware substance of the spiritual Identical made active on itself and in itself, spirit made sight, spirit vibrant as feeling, spirit self-luminous as perception and conception. All is in fact the knowledge by identity, self-powered, self-moving in its multitudinous selfhood of one-awareness. The Spirit's infinite self-experience moves between sheer identity and a multiple identity, a delight of intimately differentiated oneness and an absorbed self-rapture.” (pp. 546-47)

A knowledge by identity using the powers of the integrated being for richness of instrumentation would be the principle of the supramental life. In the other grades of the gnostic being, although a truth of spiritual being and consciousness would fulfil itself, the instrumentation would be of a different order. A higher-mental being would act through the truth of thought, the truth of the idea and accomplish that in the life-action: but in the supramental gnosis thought is a derivative movement, it is a formulation of truth-vision and not the determining or the main driving force; it would be an instrument for expression of knowledge more than for arrival at knowledge or for action,—or it would intervene in action only as a penetrating point of the body of identity-will and identity-knowledge. So too in the illumined gnostic being truth-vision and in the intuitive gnostic being a direct truth-contact and perceptive truth-sense would be the mainspring of action.

In the Overmind a comprehensive immediate grasp of the truth of things and the principle of being of each thing and all its dynamic consequences would originate and gather up a great wideness of gnostic vision and thought and create a foundation of knowledge and action; this largeness of being and seeing and doing would be the varied result of an underlying identity-consciousness, but the identity itself would not be in the front as the very stuff of the consciousness or the very force of the action. But in the supramental gnosis all this luminous immediate grasp of the truth of things, truth-sense, truth-vision, truth-thought would get back into its source of identity-consciousness and subsist as a single body of its knowledge. The identity-consciousness would lead and contain everything; it would manifest as an awareness in the very grain of the being's substance putting forth its inherent self-fulfilling force and determining itself dynamically in form of consciousness and form of action. This inherent awareness is the origin and principle of the working of supramental gnosis; it could be sufficient in itself with no need of anything to formulate or embody it: but the play of illumined vision, the play of a radiant thought, the play of all other movements of the spiritual consciousness would not be absent; there would be a free instrumentation of them for their own brilliant functioning, for a divine richness and diversity, for a manifold delight of self-manifestation, for the joy of the powers of the Infinite. In the intermediate stages or degrees of the gnosis there might be the manifestation of various and separate expressions of the aspects of the divine Being and Nature, a soul and life of love, a soul and life of divine light and knowledge, a soul and life of divine power and sovereign action and creation, and innumerable other forms of divine life; on the supramental height all would be taken up into a manifold unity, a supreme integration of being and life. A fulfilment of the being in a luminous and blissful integration of its states and powers and their satisfied dynamic action would be the sense of the gnostic existence. (p. 1007-08)

There are subordinate, but important details. The Vedic seers seem to speak of two primary faculties of the “truth-conscious” soul; they are Sight and Hearing, by which is intended direct operations of an inherent Knowledge describable as truth-vision and truth-audition and reflected from far-off in our human mentality by the faculties of revelation and inspiration. Besides, a distinction seems to be made in the operations of the Supermind between knowledge by a comprehending and pervading consciousness which is very near to subjective knowledge by identity and knowledge by a projecting, confronting, apprehending consciousness which is the beginning of objective cognition. These are the Vedic clues. And we may accept from this ancient experience the subsidiary term “truth-consciousness” to delimit the connotation of the more elastic phrase, Supermind. (p. 125)
When we compare these modes of acquiring knowledge with the scientific method of investigation based on empirical rationalism which has proved so rewarding in the domain of physical sciences of a certain kind, we see that there is a deep gulf and one wonders if it can be crossed at all by pursuing it. Knowledge based on them is also of a different kind. We might first look into the scientific approach and try to see its boundaries and its limitations before we can opine anything about the post-human destinies founded on it. a critical review of this aspect is essential when we start entering into the occult and spiritual domains of man’s progress without which there can be no worth while destiny, that is, if we are to avoid the Brownoskian Ascent of Man based on his intellectual muscles we must look into the hidden possibilities present in Man’s soul and Man’s spirit as much as his instruments of operation and cognition. RYD

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