Friday, January 08, 2016

Consciousness exists not just for itself

The world exists for bhoga (experience) and apavarga (liberation). These are the two options the material world gives you. The spiritual world, however, offers you the added option of prema. It is the hope of this prema, its transmutation, sometimes into bhoga and sometimes into apavarga, that keeps saṁsāra rolling around and around.

One of the other important ideas that comes up in Yoga Sutra and has its origins in Sāṅkhya is the following: "Prakṛti is parārtha (for another), Puruṣa is svārtha (for itself)." This terminology is very significant, as it pervades "normative" Hindu philosophy, including both Advaita and Vaishnava Vedanta, though with some adjustments, especially in the latter.

According to Sāṅkhya, the Consciousness Principle is called Puruṣa. In this philosophy, the Puruṣa is consciousness only. To even be aware of the world requires that consciousness be reflected in the material nature, starting with its subtlest form, which is buddhi or Mahat.

The universe is, as the Gita says, the result of the combination of Puruṣa and Prakṛti, the former providing the life-giving properties to matter. But in this Prakṛti exists for the Puruṣa. Matter presents itself to the consciousness principle through the chain leading to Buddhi. Matter serves the consciousness principle by availing it of bhoga and apavarga, experience of the world and liberation from it.

When one comes to the point of recognizing that even the capacity for awareness of this world is the result of identity with it, and one attains para-vairāgya, the highest level of renunciation, where one no longer even holds to that, then freed of the final kleśa, abhiniveśa, the fear of self-annihilation, he enters into the kaivalya state.

In the first delineation of the Sāṅkhya tattvas in the Gita (after of course separating Prakṛti and Puruṣa in the second chapter) is in the seventh chapter, where Krishna makes a huge departure from traditional Sāṅkhya by saying that the jiva, the individual consciousness, is ALSO Prakṛti, which means that the jiva also exists for another, and not for himself alone. And that is for the Puruṣottama.

So the Sāṅkhya argument that Consciousness exists for itself is contested. This is easy to understand if we consider the question of Love. We crave love, not isolation. Is love then only a transformation of matter? Love is the perfection of both bhoga and apavarga, the synthesis of both.

So for the devotee Sāṅkhya philosopher, the Other is not Prakṛti, but only the Divine Person, presenting himself in an infinity of forms in order to awaken your love; and when you love you will see Him in that infinity of forms.

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