Nothing can exist without Existence. The existent is phenomenal, changing, subject to birth and death, but Existence, upon which all stands phenomenally, is unchanging, imperishable, immortal and the All.
Existence is common to God, matter and all modifications of matter such as grass, trees, etc., and all is what it is by virtue of Sat, Ts’-ness, Truth. Truth is that which is essence, and essence is that without which nothing can exist. Aristotle distinguishes between essence and attributes. Essence is Existence, and the latter is not an attribute. To say, ‘God exists,’ is wrong, because this affirmation implies that He exists somewhere, in Heaven or Paradise or in the universe, or at some time. This would make Him mortal and not immortal. This philosophical truism cannot be refuted.
Kant says that man can imagine the absence of everything except time and space. If he says, ‘there is no time and space,’ he is nevertheless unable to imagine no time and no space; no, he cannot do so. But there is one thing which transcends time and space and about which he cannot say that it is ‘there’ or ‘then.’ It is beyond these categories, that something is now even as it always was. What is that? It is Existence—Sat.
To have a correct idea of Existence is to understand the backbone of the philosophy of Yoga.
Look at this table. There is Ts’-ness in this table, that is, Being, and Being is Existence. Being and Existence are one. Existence is beyond time and space and is immortal.
What is proof? Those who want proof, do not know the A B C of philosophy. Sat is all. Existence is all—immortal, infinite and all-pervasive. It is absolute. It has not the attribute of being existent, but the Absolute is Existence.
The Absolute can have no attributes; attributes are limiting adjuncts.
Consider the expression ‘black cow.’ This means it is neither white, nor purple, etc.—that is all. Blackness limits the cow.
If the Absolute had attributes, It would have limitations and consequently would be perishable. Time and space are the agencies which introduce change.
You will say: “Such an Absolute is nothing,” but in thinking of nothing we assert Being. You say: “There is nothing.” This contains two declarations : first “there is” and then “nothing.” This is a fallacy.
In the holy philosophy, much stress is laid on essence.
Essence and substance are the same thing. ‘Sub’ means ‘stands under.’ What is the essence of, that is, what ‘stands under’ the pitcher? Clay. The pitcher is born, gets old and is destroyed, but the clay remains. Waves come and go, but the water abides for ever.
The substance of the whole universe is Existence, and from it comes the existent which in course of time is absorbed again. Existence abides for ever. Some ignorant ones argue that because heaven and earth are perishable, then God too must be perishable. This argument is wrong. To exist, a thing must be in time and space and subject to the law of cause and effect. It can then be destroyed.
But God is beyond, and cannot be destroyed. All forces have come out of the womb of time. In Him they exist, therefore He is immortal, imperishable, all in all.
Aristotle quotes the following illustration: ‘Peter is sad.’ Now ‘sad’ is an attribute, ‘Peter’ is the basis. ‘Sad’ is an accident because in the evening he is glad, but Peter himself has not changed. Similarly, everything changes but not God. Aristotle defines ‘Being’ thus: ‘Being is that which exists by itself.’ Earth exists by virtue of space; the cosmos exists on God, because He is the substratum in which time and space are accidents, just as sadness is an accident in Peter. Being exists by itself and is called ‘prakasha, svayam jyoti’ (light, selfluminous), because all other light exists by virtue of its light.
The Upanishads say: “Man performs his functions during the day in the light of the sun, at night in the light of the moon or stars, or in the light of sound.” You are caught in a dense forest on a dark night, and a sound indicates your direction. Is anything more luminous than sound? Yes, your own Self who cognizes sound. The Absolute is free, all-pervasive and the ultimate Reality.
First we prove a thing. God is not conditioned by time and space, and we put this forward on the authority of reason, Common sense recognizes two categories: subject and object, the knower and the known, the eater and the eaten.
You are the seer; you see the sun and the moon. What is that which is above both subject and object? Is there anything? There is. The subject knows the object, the object does not know the subject. What knows both? In deep sleep there is neither subject nor object, but you are. You do not cease to exist. If you did, how do you account for the continuum of your existence? These two catagories of subject and object exist in Atman, but Atman itself belongs to no category, Atman—Self, is Existence, and Existence and Consciousness are one and the same.
The terms are synonymous. Both subject and object disappear in deep sleep, and that on which both stand is called Turiya. Waking, dreaming and deep dreamless sleep are the three states of the soul existing in Turiya, the Fourth—Brahman, independent of subject and object. The corollary is, that which is independent of subject and object, Chit or Sat (Consciousness or Existence), is not subject to the laws of cause and effect. Shri Shankara says: “The Absolute is without activity.” If you attribute activity to God, He is limited and ceases to be absolute. He is that which is more subtle than time and space, more subtle than mind, beyond the operations of time and space, He whom the mind cannot know —He is that, He is all in all.
The nature of Existence is Truth, that which cannot contradict itself, which the Yogis call Brahman and the theologians call God.
Shri Shankara postulates a God about whom there can be infinite reasoning. He towers above all, and in Him is perpetual sunlight in Ananda (bliss). Krishna, OM, the Cross, Christ— these are all symbols of that holiest of states—Sat, Brahman, waveless bliss.
Now we come to answer the question on the nature of Existence, or Brahman. It is absolute and affirmative, there is no possibility of negation or of limitation. Can you negate yourself? Secondly, the Absolute is simple, not subject to inner antithesis or contradiction, never transitory, ever unchanging. It is Nirguna, Kutastha—immutable, free from all—such is Truth, Existence.
If you practise discipline, then alone will you be able to understand TAT TWAM ASI. Being is Existence, to be thought of affirmatively; Being transcends time, it is immortal; it transcends space, therefore it is infinite. All attributes are perishable:
He is Existence and Consciousness. He is One— He is not many. He is not even One, because ‘one’ refers to an object in time and space. He is Advaita—non-dual. He is Existence, Consciousness, Bliss (Sat-Chit-Ananda). Sat means He is not unreal. What is real? None can know That, for He is beyond mind, speech and senses. Chit means He is not inert. Ananda means there is no suffering in Him.
He is in each and every being—the One, Isolation itself, in all beings. He is Shiva found everywhere, Akshara—the Imperishable. He is mass-Existence, Immutable—and to Him we olfer our salutations again and again.
Some say there are two objects—He and matter. But all such objections have been met by the great philosopher Swami Madhusudhana. The co-existence of two reals is inconceivable. There is no plurality in Brahman, He is above all.
Aristotle says: “Human life may be compared to public games, attracting diverse men. Some compete for honour, others for wealth, others enter for enjoyment.” So it is with life— some work for honour, some for profit, a few for Truth, and others as witnesses of joy.
All may be summed up in one word —OM. We are here to realise this in our being, then alone we may know joy, happiness and peace, that which alone is peace.
Verily there is no other way.