What is Living and What is Dead in Indian Philosophy

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Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, Harvey, Peter. Denwood and A. Jacobsen, Knut A. Jaini, Padmanabha Shrivarma. The Jaina Path of Purification. Klostermaier, Klaus K. Lad, Ashok Kumar.

Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya, What is Living and What is Dead in Indian Philosophy - PhilPapers

Burhanpur, India: Girdharlal Keshavdas, Miller, Jeanine. The Vision of Cosmic Order in the Vedas. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, Oberhammer, Gerhard. Oldmeadow, Harry. Orofino, Giacomella, trans. Sacred Tibetan Teachings on Death and Liberation.


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Wiesbaden, Germany: O. Harrassowitz, Welbon, G. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, Werner, Karel. London: Curzon Press, , repr. Yoga and Indian Philosophy. Delhi, India: Banarsidass, , reprint in and Whicher, Ian. Cite this article Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

September 22, Similarly in the waking state, also, what is imagined within by the mind is illusory ; and what is experienced outside appears to be real. But in fact both should rationally be held to be unreal. The Self again with his mind turned within imagines in his mind various ideas.

Mind is the final reality. The basis of this doctrine is that things cannot exist independently of the perceiver's mind, that the entire phenomenal world of experience is a creation within the perceiving mind, as is a dream, and hence, from the highest metaphysical standpoint, an idea or mental appearance.

The author of The Toga Vasishta presents the teaching in another way, asserting that the world is relative to the mind and must therefore be mental in character if the possibility of its being known is to be achieved. He writes:. And there cannot exist any relation between two heterogeneous things.

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Relation implies identity, for it cannot be possible between two utterly different objects. The cognition of the object by the subject therefore establishes their substantial identity. If they were utterly different from each other, knowledge would not have been possible; the subject would ever remain unaware of the object as a stone of the taste of sugar.

It does not exist except in thought.

It arises and exists in the mind. The whole universe is the expansion of the mind. It is a huge dream arisen within the mind. It is imagination alone that has assumed the forms of time, space and movement.

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The objective world is potentially inherent in the subject, as seeds of a lotus exist in the flower, as oil in sesamum seeds. All objects are related to the subject from which they proceed. They appear to be different from it, but are not so in reality. The world experience is nothing in reality but a dream. In every individual separately has arisen the experience of the world in the same way that soldiers, while dreaming, experience their own battle-fields, each within his own mind, and quite distinct from that of another.

In a small head, it may be added to explain the meaning of Vasishta, an infinite world of dreams with its immeasurable extension can be experienced and is actually experienced by all of us. As there is no real extension of space, so there is no duration of time apart from the activity of the mind. One night of a tormented creature passes as an age, whereas it is experienced as a moment in the merriment of the happy. If within a moment one could imagine the whole cycle of the world's existence, the moment would actually be experienced as a full world-period, and vice versa, a whole aeon can be experienced as a moment through imagination.

If the universe is nothing but a series of thought-forms, mental illusions, which pass through the mind of man, the question arises whether the latter is really and ultimately responsible for their creation. The author of Yoga Vasishta realizes that such a solipsism is difficult to maintain and so lends his support to the Upanishadic assertion that " the Mighty Lord," God, is the true illusion-maker, and that the idea of the created world is put into our minds by the Divine One.

He says:. The world is the imagination of the Lord.

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It becomes as He thinks it to be. The inherent nature of objects like earth, snow, fire, etc. The world idea arises in every individual mind in the same manner as it arose in the beginning in the mind of the Creator.


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  • The Cosmic imagination is the original impulse which is initiated and represented in all minds. We know each other and share the world-experience in common with others, on account of there being represented or reflected in each individual the same cosmic order of ideas which is imagined in the Cosmic consciousness. Individuals know each other by mutual representation in each other's consciousness. So in every individual everything is represented in the same fashion as in the Cosmic Mind. The following sentence from Ashtavakra Samhita, a work already mentioned in another connection, is also pertinent to our inquiry:.

    The Upaniá¹£ads

    There exists in reality only one thing and that is of the nature of the intelligent principle of consciousness, and its oneness is not destroyed by the varied character of its manifestations. In the self alone all the world, whose being is but perception, takes its rise, and persists, and perishes over and over again. We may turn to another book, the Manasollasa, by Suresvaracarya, an early Indian thinker noted for his bold advocacy of metaphysical idealism. Even the high gods of the Hindu pantheon are not sacrosanct to him. Down from the deities to the lowest being, all creatures are the display of imagination.

    It is when we arrive at Buddhist literature that we find a similar and wholesale rejection of the pantheistic theory of Divine Ideation mentioned in the earlier quotations. Since the Buddhists would not admit the existence of God in their cosmology, or of any eternal abiding spiritual Self hidden behind the world phenomena, they were left with no alternative but to ascribe the world to human consciousness alone. Matter was made the mere phantasmal play of man's mind. But generally Buddha discouraged the asking of ultimate questions, and sought to en-courage those only dealing with ethics and psychology, so that the development of the metaphysical side of his doctrine was carried out by his followers.

    Through objects visually cognised, mind manifests itself in the body in one's objects of enjoyment, residence, and so on.

    What is Living and What is Dead in Indian Philosophy

    Out of these appearances ideas are formed, such as clay, water, jar, etc. By it the wise cease to regard appearances and names as realities. Appearance-knowledge belongs to the ignorant and simple-minded.. Perfect-knowledge belongs to the world of the Buddhas who recognize that all things are but manifestations of mind; who clearly understand the emptiness, the unbornness, the egolessness of all things.

    When appearances and names are put away and all discrimination ceases, that which remains is the true and essential nature of things and, as nothing can be predicated as to the nature of essence, it is called the 'Suchness' of reality. This universal, undifferentiated, inscrutable, 'Suchness' is the only reality.

    On the contrary, my teaching is based upon the recognition that the objective world, like a vision, is a manifestation of the mind itself. Asvagosha, who lived nineteen hundred years ago and was one of the leaders of the Mahayana Buddhist philosophical school, writes in his chief book, the Mahayana Sraddhotpada:. One of the celebrated ancient commentators on the Upanishads was Gaudapada, reputed to be the teacher of the teacher of Shankara, the man who bears the most famous post-Buddhistic philosophical name.

    He was an uncompromising idealist, as the following excerpts from his chief commentary, the Karika, will show:. For duality is never experienced when the mind ceases to act. Finally, we arrive at the works of Shankara himself who, according to a learned modern critic, Sir Charles Eliot, " holds the first place in Indian philosophy. This extraordinary man began to teach, travel, and write whilst yet a youth and left more than a hundred works behind when he died in the Himalaya Mountains at the age of thirty-two.

    His influence upon Hindu culture was extremely dominant at one time and, moreover, was nation-wide in its scope. Shankara introduced into Indian meta-physical literature a simile which thereafter became widely used. He pictured a man walking in the jungle in the dim light after sunset and becoming startled and fearful as he sees a coiled snake in his path.

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