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Variantions Of Indian Philosophy

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I found this on the web

In India there are three points of view about the ultimate mystery of existence. The first is of the Hindu Upanishads, the Vedas and the Gita. According to their view, the ultimate reality is one; all else are expressions of this one. There are no individual souls, there is only a universal soul. There are no separate individuals, there is only one universal existence.

The second viewpoint is of the Jainas. According to them the ultimate reality is not just one, it is split into many: there is no universal soul, there are only individual souls. There is not one single totality; instead, there are many separate beings.

The third vision is of the Buddhists. For them there is neither a universal soul nor an individual soul, neither the whole nor the individual. For them there is nothingness, shunyata, the ultimate void.

These three viewpoints are very contradictory. And for thousands of years arguments have been going on over them but there has never been any conclusion. And the propounders of these three views are the enlightened ones who have experienced and known the truth, so it is very difficult to understand why there are these great differences. One can understand the arguments and debates of the scholars because they don't have any inner experience. They just use complicated words and they try to propound principles and explain theories according to their own logic, but they don't have any inner experience of their own.

But Mahavira, Buddha and Shankara are not scholars. Whatsoever they are saying is not from their thinking. It is not philosophy, they are telling of their own experiences. They are simply talking about that which they have known. There is no mistake, no flaw in their knowing.

Then why is there so much controversy? Because of this controversy, in India there are three different attitudes towards life. Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism are the three main streams of thinking which dominate the Indian mind. And because there is no end to the controversy, the Indian mind is also full of confusion. It will be good to understand this more deeply.

I see absolutely no difference in these three views. The statements are absolutely different but there is no difference in the essence. And these statements are not only different, they are diametrically opposite — but their meaning and purpose are the same. And one who cannot see this one purpose will never be able to see the oneness in all the religions. Yet there are reasons why these three insights have been presented in three different ways.

The Vedas, the Upanishads, the Brahma Sutra and the Gita say that the divine is one, but the unconscious people interpreted this in a wrong way and it became disastrous. They said, "If there is only the one, then there is no point in doing anything — all forms are of the divine: it is in sin and in virtue, in the good man as well as in the thief, in the bondage of the world and in liberation; it is here, it is there, it is everywhere. It is also in evil. Then what is the need to do anything? Nothing remains to be done."

If this whole existence is only one reality, only one essence, then there is no need to do anything in life. Then what is the difference between good and evil? What is the difference between religion and irreligion? What is the difference between maya, illusion, and brahman, the ultimate reality? If in reality there is only the one, then there is nothing left to be done. What is there to aspire to? What is there to renounce? The result of this unique concept of the one ultimate reality has been a profound laziness; a great laziness has overpowered the Indian mind. So people would just read the Vedas and the Upanishads; they would memorize the Gita and think that there was nothing left for them to do. But in this way there was no transformation in life.

This was not the intention of the enlightened people who shared these truths — but the intention of the awakened ones and the understanding of the ignorant are never the same. The intention of those who said there is only one reality was to help you to let go of your self, and then only it is.

Your ego is false. You think that you are separate, but this is just your illusion. This is the obstacle in your life; this is the cause of all your misery and your bondage. You should allow your self to dissolve and disappear into this vastness. Don't try to save yourself, to keep yourself separate. All the pain of life arises out of the belief that you are separate. And if you are separate then you have to protect yourself. If you are separate then you have to fight with everyone because nobody is with you in the difficulties of life. All are your competitors. Life becomes a quarrel and a fight and in this fight there is only worry and anxiety. If you are separate then the fear of death grips you — because you know that you will have to die.

Every day you see someone dying... but the whole never dies. People go on dying but this vast immensity lives eternally. Life is never destroyed but every day you see embodied life dying. Earthen lamps are extinguished every day but the light as such remains. This is why the fear of death possesses you: if you are separate, then you will certainly die. And if you have merged and become one with this vast existence, then there is no way to die. Then life is deathless, life is eternal.

The intention of those who wanted the concept of the one reality to prevail was so that the ego could dissolve, disappear, evaporate. But the ego did not dissolve, even though that was the intention of the awakened ones. The ignorant misinterpreted the concept of one ultimate reality so that instead of dissolving their egos, it only enhanced and supported the ego. The seers have said, "I am the ultimate reality." Their meaning was, "I am not, only the ultimate reality is." But the ignorant thought, "I am the ultimate reality!" Those who declared "I am the ultimate reality" meant that there is no drop, only the ocean is. But hearing this the drop thought, "I am the ocean." Because of this the drop could not dissolve, it became even more egoistic.

The awakened ones were thinking that on the day man realizes that there is only one reality there will be no more sin, because sin is against the other. When do you sin? — when you sacrifice the other for your own happiness, that is sin. But if I am in all, spread in all and there is only one reality and there is no one else, then there is no possibility of sin. For sin, the other is needed; for sin, the other must be sacrificed — for my benefit the other's benefit has to be destroyed. But if there is only one reality and no other, there is no possibility for selfishness or sin. Then to harm the other means to harm yourself. The intention of the seers was that you realize that when you cease to be as an ego, when you are no more, there will be no way to sin. But the ignorant interpreted that if there is only one reality then there is no sin or virtue; whatsoever you do is okay because this one reality is omnipresent in all.

When Mahavira saw what was happening to this supreme understanding he tried to destroy it from the very roots, so he said that there is no one ultimate reality; every person is himself divine and the drop does not need to dissolve itself in the ocean. The drop simply has to go on purifying itself, it has to become absolutely pure. He said that this idea of dissolving is wrong because the whole country had become very lazy and lethargic because of it: the ignorant people misinterpreted the word 'dissolve', so instead of destroying it, the idea of one supreme reality became the very foundation of ignorance.

So Mahavira did not talk about the ultimate reality. He said, "There is no universal soul, only the individual soul exists. You must become pure. Sin is sin, virtue is virtue — the same reality is not present in all. Bad is bad and good is good and the difference between the two should be kept clear. That dividing line should not be dissolved."

Mahavira has called his insight bheda-vigyan, the science of differentiation. The Upanishads say abheda, no difference. But Mahavira has called his whole technique bheda-vigyan, the clear awareness of difference: what is wrong and what is right, where is wrong and where is right, where is good and where is evil, from where does goodness begin and from where does evil begin, where does worldliness end and where does liberation from it begin? Mahavira made the understanding of this clear distinction the basis of spirituality. He said that each individual is separate, he has not to dissolve. And when each individual is separate then the whole responsibility for his life is his own. If you are suffering it is your own responsibility, not the divine's. If you experience bliss then only you are responsible and it is not by the blessing of any divine. Mahavira dropped prayer, only medita tion remained. Meditation to him means that one has to purify oneself so much that one day only pure consciousness is left. Mahavira called that pure consciousness paramatma. Paramatma does not mean God, it means param-atma, the ultimate soul, the purest soul.

Mahavira's intention was to help people to overcome their lethargy. People are sleepy and unconscious because they are living in a deception which has been created by the principles which they believe in and which give them the permission to remain asleep. Mahavira wanted to destroy the whole basis of these theories so that man would become more aware, more silent, more conscious. He should stand on his own feet: he should not wait for any divine blessing or grace or support. This was a very important technique for the purification of man — but the end result of this too was exactly the same as it has always been and will always be.

Mahavira wanted that man should purify himself and rise to his divinity, but the ignorant understood, "I exist, and there is no divine to dissolve my self into; my existence is the end, the only reality." Mahavira's concept of the individual soul simply enhanced the egos of the ignorant: neither did they realize the soul nor did they purify themselves and rise to their own divin ity. Instead they became full of a very strong ego that believes that there is no God and that only "I am."

And as this ego of 'I am' becomes stronger, unconsciousness also be comes stronger because then the ego is an intoxicant. This intoxication increases in the same proportion as the ego; to the same extent, a man's life becomes more unconscious. When there is no divine there is no reason to bow down, so the people who were egoistic were supported by this. They were happy with the idea that there is no need to bow down, no need to surrender. Humbleness was no longer seen as a quality of saintliness; there was only pride and arrogance.

Mahavira said, "Be independent. Don't become lazy and dependent on prayer," and the ignorant understood, "I am all there is and I have only to trust in my own strength. I have to rely only on myself." The ego became stronger and this ego destroyed the Jaina philosophy. Just as the concept of brahman, the universal reality, made the Hindus lazy and lethargic, so has the concept of the individual soul made the Jainas very arrogant and egoistic.

When Buddha saw that both views — the universal reality and the individual soul — caused the downfall of man, he then said that there is no universal reality and no individual soul: there is only shunya, vast emptiness. His expression was very unique. He said that there is no universal reality and no individual soul because it was necessary to cut the very roots of the mistake made in the Hindu's way of thinking and in the Jaina's philosophy. "You are not, there is nobody within you..." Buddha says that to attain to this nothingness is the ultimate knowing.

This is why Buddha has not used the word brahmalok, the abode of the divine; neither did he use the word moksha, ultimate liberation. He used the word nirvana, the extinguishing of the flame of an earthen lamp. When the flame of an earthen lamp is burned out we don't ask, "Where is the flame? Where has it gone?" It simply does not exist anymore. Buddha says that it is not the earthen lamp of the awakened one which burns out but the flame of his ego which is extinguished. What remains within is the ultimate emptiness, pure silence. And to attain to that emptiness is nirvana. This was a very profound insight because with this there was no more space for man's laziness to continue and there was no more support for the ego to survive.

But when the ignorant heard that there is neither a universal reality nor an individual soul, they interpreted that there is nothing worth attaining! — "What is the point when there is nothing? And when emptiness is already there within, why make any effort? Why practice any spiritual discipline?" Buddha's insight seemed like atheism to the ignorant: ''When there is nothing, then whatever pleasures are available in this life, we should enjoy them! When there is nothing eternal then why give up the transitory? It is better to hold on to whatever is available now because later on there will be nothing to attain; there is only the void, emptiness." And Buddha's vision also failed because of this teaching of emptiness.

It is very strange that whatsoever was the deepest insight of any vision became the cause of its failure. The unconscious people are strange... the enlightened ones are always defeated by them. To save themselves the ignorant always find loopholes in everything. And they even argue and say that their theory is right and the other's is wrong.

Theories have no value in religion, the value is in the intention behind it. Try to understand this. Theories are of value to the scholars, who themselves are not worth much. The enlightened ones are concerned only with the intent of religion. What is Shankara's motive? What is the motive of Mahavira? What does Buddha intend? Whatsoever they are saying is not as important as their motive. Whatsoever they are saying is only a device, an indication. What are they indicating? But scholars take hold of the words and they go on fighting and arguing over the words for centuries! The Jaina scholars go on proving that there is no universal reality, that only an individual soul exists, the Hindu scholars go on proving that there is no individual soul, that only one universal reality exists and the Buddhist scholars go on proving that there is neither a universal reality nor an indi vidual soul, there is only emptiness.

But there is no question of proving anything: only the purpose and the meaning have to be understood. The indication has to be understood. The only motive of a Mahavira, a Buddha or a Shankara is that you should be transformed, that you become reborn; that the dust on your mirror should be removed, that it should become clean so that you can see that which is. Call it whatsoever you like: the brahman, nirvana, shunya, atman — these are only words. Any word can be used, but that which is has no name. Their only desire is that you should be able to experience it.

But you go on discussing what they say and you don't experiment with what they say. You just think about it and talk about it but you don't meditate on what they say. You just stuff your mind with their words. But by doing all this your life will not be transformed, no revolution will happen. So, in a way, all the enlightened ones have failed.

Whenever someone becomes enlightened he finds it very difficult to communicate because it has been said in a thousand-and-one ways, but you are somehow able to protect yourself from listening to their actual message. The cunning people can always find ways not to listen. Just a few simple people, who are not so cunning, do listen, and they are benefited by it. But all the traditions are created by the cunning people. The enlightened one shares his religiousness and the cunning ones create the traditions.

According to the Upanishads it is the simple and innocent people who have the subtle intelligence, and they are the people who transform them selves and don't create any traditions. They don't care whether what is said is the actual truth; they understand that what is said is only indicating towards truth.

All words are just indications. The only value of the indication is that it takes you forwards, keeps you moving further and further, just as the arrows on the milestones on the road show the right direction. If you are going to Delhi, the arrow is pointing you towards Delhi. But you are so unconscious that when you see the milestone with the arrow and with 'Delhi' written on it, you become attached to the milestone and you stop there in the belief that you have arrived in Delhi. You pay no attention to the arrow. That stone with 'Delhi' written on it is not Delhi; the milestones only indicate that Delhi is some distance away. When you see a zero on the milestone then you know that you have arrived in Delhi. Then there will be no arrow on it, no word on it, only a zero will be there. But as long as there are arrows to point the way, understand that the destination is still far away.

No scripture is truth. All scriptures are like milestones that say, "Go forwards." But you start worshipping the milestones, and different people keep different kinds of milestones on their heads. And then great discussions go on to prove whose Delhi is the real one. No scripture is truth, all scriptures are just indications towards the truth. And one who holds on to the scripture will only prove that the scripture is wrong, and he himself will go astray.

All the scriptures say to go on moving, go forwards until you reach the zero where all words disappear and nothing more is written. And when you have reached the zero you will realize that all the words were different indications, different devices of the enlightened ones to take you to the zero, to the wordless silence.

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These three viewpoints are very contradictory.

You didn't quote the source; I'd say that the above quote is a WESTERN philosophical viewpoint. It is a western mindset that assumes that if MY Truth is right , yours must be wrong.

I'm going to desist from my habitual long expositions tomight and just say that if you study the hisory of Eastern philosophy you get an interestingly different set of assumptions.

I'll take Mahayana Buddhism as one example: in the Mahayana there are many Buddhist sutras and each one claims to be the Ultimate Truth. They do not assert that the others are in error but that they are versions of relative truth, and ultimate truth can only be accessed through relative truth.

For me the greatest thinker in all history was Nagarjuna, generally regarded as the founding father of systematic Mahayana philosophy. He analysed all the philosophies known in India - Hinayana Buddhist, Jain, various Hindu schools and pushed their thought systems to the limit. He found them all ultimately to be contradictory and defeated themselves by their own logic. He didn't replace them with an alternative 'Truth'; he championed the phrase 'Sunyata' - impossible to translate as western thought imposes wrong understanding on it but it is commonly rendered 'emptiness'. Your article seems to adhere to this way of thinking.

The Bhagavad Gita also effectively incorporated conflciting Hindu philosophical systems within an all-embracing system which recognises that most people need to relate to the Ultimate on a relative level and there is nothing wrong with that - as long as it is not mistaken for the ultimate.

Personally I like this way of thinking very much - it is inherently respectful of others' positions. Early (and some contemporary) Christian missionaries to India, China and other Asian civilizations often were initially very encouraged at the warm reception their gospel received, but couldn't grasp why people were not thereby ditching their native religion and converting. They didn't get how Hindus, Buddhists and others could accept the 'Truth' of Christianity AND the 'Truth' of other paths.

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Right, it reads like a glib quote concocted from a Western perspective.

In the Buddhist Tipitaka, there is no definitive argument for self or for not-self. Basically the Buddha sides with the essayist, saying it's not as simple as that.

Also it's not correct to say that Buddhism argues there is only the void/shunyata, etc. That's true only for certain Mahayana schools.

One could say these are all provisional views dependent on conditioned thinking.

Edited by sabaijai

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