The Enquiry into Brahman.
Lord Russell holds that there is a reality which is hidden in each appearance. The Buddhist philosophers also postulated this view. Common sense also supports this fact. You look at a lake which is full of water and calm as a mirror. But in fact the water is a mere appearance, the reality being the hydrogen and oxygen which compose it. They are invisible and have no dimensions; but the lake is so different.
Then a great war is going on in the lake. Thousands of microorganisms appear and are destroyed every second. The forces of integration and disintegration are at work in every particle of water. The same is true of every other object in nature. Russell says that we do not see the same face twice. He talks like a Buddhist.
Another and yet another reality is hidden in each appearance. The gases of which the water is composed are not real. There is another reality hidden in them. Some forty years ago they called the reality hidden in each element, ether; now that substance also is proved to be an illusion. Water will quench our thirst and prove useful to us in many ways; but our quest for reality will go on beyond the appearance we call water, Berkeley attributed reality to the mind. But Hume abolished the mind, Bradley confused the matter still further and offered no solution to the problem of reality. After studying the systems–of philosophy of the- West from Thales to Whitehead you come to the conclusion that Reality is not known. For the sake of convenience some of the thinkers take refuge in scepticism and some in agnosticism. Herbert Spencer in his ’First Principles’ calls Reality unknown and unknowable. These, theories do not satisfy the enquiring soul and thinking, rational man is not left with inner peace.
There are shallow men whose world is composed of their immediate experience. They live, make money, pursue comfort, love show, do what they call their social and domestic duty, and laugh at all philosophers as dreamers and impractical men. But they are dissatisfied. They grow irritable and suffer from boredom. They love nobody and nobody loves them. If they have wealth, all ill-gotten, they become art collectors and not art enjoyers. For show they maintain large libraries, but never read the books. Many of them take to drink or to gambling.
The quest for Reality is fundamental in man. There is no escape from it. Like hunger and thirst, it is real. If you subdue it, you are dissatisfied with everything, even with yourself. ‘Tono Bungay’ by H. G. Wells, well describes the misery and horrors of the empiricists whose main concern is wealth and physical pleasure. Fain is a fact, death is a fact, separation is a fact. What is the saving force, if any? It is the spirit of enquiry pursued under restraint and within proper limits. There is no such thing as a free and independent enquiry. It was this error which led many Hegelians to Communism, revolution and racial hatred. The young Hegelians who called themselves true philosophers in the middle of the last century, became brutes and committed excesses which even a cannibal would not do.
Let us study the facts from the point of view of Vedanta. Those who have studied it carefully and tinder discipline, have seen Truth and found perfect satisfaction and light.
There is the Self, the subject, and the world, the object. The “I” and the “This” or “That” are undeniable facts.
Perhaps the ‘universals’ and ‘particulars’ of Aristotle are similar terms. The “I” is universal, it is common to all beings. What appears unconscious to-day is on the way to consciousness and self-consciousness. In the physical world, space is common, nay universal. In the inner world, “I” is common. The “This” is constantly changing; the “I” is constant. Shri Vidyaranya Swami has taught the universality and eternity of “I” so clearly and tersely in Panchadasi.
We start our enquiry with “This”. What is this Jagat? Whence is it? Whither? These are the questions which every thinking mind must ask. We are all dreamers to a lesser or greater degree. There is a ‘ Waterloo for every practical man. Declining the offer of whatever little property the Upanishadic sage had, his wife said: “0 Lord, teach me that which will make me immortal.”
We do not discover the study of sciences, aesthetics etc. In the stage of Dharma it is most useful. But an enquiry into the nature of “I” is essential in the stage of Moksha or deliverance. The cognition of an object inspires enquiry into its nature, surroundings, cause and so forth. Self is the fact of facts. The objectivity of an object means the primacy of “I”. “It” implies “I”.
As the mind of man acquires maturity and emerges from the infantile state of assigning reality to the objects, it becomes subjective – “What is the mind?” What are passions and what is the basis of cognition?
These are important questions. Much of our empirical peace depends on the enquiry into the inner world. Alexander approached the Brahmin sages to seek wisdom because the conquest of the world had meant lies, woe, anxiety and restlessness.
The end of man’s evolution is achievement of the infinite Consciousness, the Reality which is wrapped up in Time-Space and Causation.
The most significant of the Vedanta expressions is: “Now we commence an enquiry into Brahman (the infinite, supra-Consciousness)” (Vedanta Sutras 1.1.) What is it? It is indefinable; but for the satisfaction of the intellect of the enquirer, we say: “It is the ultimate Principle of Consciousness, the One, the undivided, from which the world springs, in which it abides temporarily, to which it finally returns on its empirical dissolution.”
A fact in connection with the enquiry is that no mention is here made of the knowledge of the world of matter or “This”. Why? By knowing a cause you have a knowledge of the effects. If you know clay, you know all the pots which are made of clay. There is no certainty attached to the knowledge of the “This”. There is no end to it, yet it has its own place. We must have a knowledge of the unity of the phenomena, Without it there will be ugliness, discard, conflict and dissatisfaction. The legs of the child in the ’Madonna of the Rocks’ of Leonardo de Vinci look out of proportion. A storm at sea when you are sailing seems to be the height of disorder. But if you can see unity in diversity you understand the world.
As a young man I studied anthropology and it led me to see unity in all races, customs and habits of mankind. It was a great moral achievement. Let us carry a unity of the “This” to the unity of “I”. When all self-consciousness is one, whom shall I hate, whom injure, whom exploit? No one is a stranger; all is my “I”, my Atman. This is not all. By a clear vision of “I” we realise non-duality. Unity is not the metaphysical term. Adwaita is all. In the wards of Shri Bhagawadpad; “The Yogis think the world to be Maya”. Understand the concept of Maya and relegate to it all empirical existence. A million years of the study and service of philosophy will reveal only this: “This is Maya”. There is no final exactitude and no ultimate certainty except in the realm of “I” (Atman).
Set about the enquiry into Brahman. This is the final phase of love; this is the road to eternal Beauty and Truth. I ask you, my dearest friends, to employ your minds, your body, all that you possess to know Atman. Keep nothing. “Give up all vain thought”. Let your efforts in Shravana, Manana, and Nididbyasana be whole-hearted.
……………………………………….. “God is on sale; .. —————–
The price is your head.
Rush and buy at once
Lest someone else may do so.”