The romantic fallacy

Viktor Frankl meaning article.

Human beings make the mistake, you could call it the “romantic fallacy,” that there is something called love, which when one falls into, everything will be complete and one is spiritually fulfilled. That is precisely why it is called a puruṣārtha of kāma, because it carries with it this illusion of completion. In a film, one sees the lovers kiss in the train station, all obstacles have been removed, and they live happily ever after. That is clearly a fallacy.

A similar fallacy exists in spiritual life: it is the liberation fallacy, it is the idea of any kind of perfection in stasis, whether called nirvana or mukti or prema. It doesn't matter what we call it, if we identify it as the absolute cessation of suffering, a stasis, then it is fundamentally a fallacy. It is not bhakti, it is not reality. That is why bhakti theologians object to it.

Both kāma or mukti are dreams of a state of being that is complete plenitude. Similarly, the other puruṣārthas, that of being an upright or righteous and dutiful man or woman (dharma), and the achievements of recognition, wealth and fame (artha), also have the same built-in sense of a static state of being, not a process.

Process means a constant challenge to stasis. So because devotees accept the world as real, they accept the eternal nature of obstacles. Moreover, since they accept the world as real, they accept such obstacles -- internal and external -- as being spiritual in nature if looked at from the proper perspective. That is the meaning of grace. It is also the meaning of separation.

Ego is eternally to be refined, even in Krishna and Radha līlā, where the ego obstacles are so refined, so subtle, as to be laughable. But that too is the point; it is the realm of union. In the svakiya vision of the Vrindavan rasikas, this union is absolute. In a way, this can only be a hypothetical state, even though where Krishna is concerned, the hypothetical is real because it is the matrix in which the world expands.

But the only place that this union would seemingly be truly possible would be in the sexual act itself. At least, that is what the physical act comes to symbolize. As soon as that ends, there is separation. That is the center of the vortex, it is the eye of the storm of creation. Everything else is separation, and the further one is distanced from that center, the more there is suffering and the more there is separation.

At the same time, it is the womb from which everything comes.

And since a return to the womb is impossible once one has come out; it cannot happen in the world of objective reality. So the point of creation is becoming. This is where the heroic mood dominates.

This is also where the difference between prakaṭa and aprakaṭa, manifest and unmanifest līlās, can be found.

So, in the Gita, when Krishna talks about sāṅkhya and yoga, or sannyāsa and yoga, and insists that they are one, he means the acintya-bhedābheda of being and becoming. Yoga thus has two meanings, one is the process of moving towards the goal (becoming) and of achieving it (being).  Although this state is not necessarily prema, without it, there can be no prema.


Anonymous said…
profound stuff, man. enjoy your writing a lot. please keep writing moar and moar.

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